January 24, 2006
Democrats Want It Both Ways on Abramoff Scandal
It was no
way to treat a lady. Washington Post ombudswoman Deborah
Howell wrote a column praising her paper for exposing crooked
lobbyist Jack Abramoff. She was deluged with so much obscene email
from outraged liberals the Post had to shut down one
of its Web sites.
pled guilty earlier this month to defrauding his clients (indian
tribes who owned casinos) and the Internal Revenue Service. Ms.
Howell's critics were in high dudgeon over a distinction without
a difference. In the 7th paragraph of her story lauding reporter
Susan Schmidt, she wrote: "And (Abramoff) had made substantial
contributions to both major parties."
that I was lying, that Democrats never got a penny of Abramoff-tainted
money, that I was trying to say it was a bipartisan scandal,"
a stunned Ms. Howell wrote in her column
All of Mr.
Abramoff's personal contributions went to Republicans. But the
big money was what Mr. Abramoff directed his clients to contribute.
from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Public
Integrity show that Abramoff's indian clients contributed money
to 195 Republicans and 88 Democrats between 1999 and 2004,"
Ms. Howell noted. Still, Democrats are trying to portray this
as strictly a GOP scandal.
On Jan. 18th,
they held a news conference at the Library of Congress to denounce
the "Republican culture of corruption."
help from the news media. It's been widely reported that Michael
Scanlon, a business partner of Mr. Abramoff, was once an aide
to former House Majority Leader Tom Delay of Texas. It is rarely
mentioned that Mr. Abramoff also hired Eddie Ayoob, who until
2002 was legislative counsel for Senate Democratic Leader Harry
Reid of Nevada.
is front page news. But there was virtually no news coverage when
one of Sen. Hillary Clinton's fund-raising committees agreed Jan.
5th to pay a $35,000 fine for failing to report $722,000 in contributions.
Sen. Reid's staff issued a report accusing 33 GOP senators who
received contributions from Mr. Abramoff or his clients of "abuse
This is guilt
by association. Mr. Abramoff is a crook. Therefore anyone to whom
he gave money or socialized with must be a crook, too. But the
steps Sen. Reid and other Democrats took on behalf of Mr. Abramoff's
clients complicate their efforts to portray this as purely a GOP
received about a third of the money donated by Mr. Abramoff's
clients and by employees of his lobbying firm. Among those receiving
the most were Rep. Robert F. Kennedy of Rhode Island ($128,000,
2nd overall); Sen. Reid ($40,500), and Sen. Byron Dorgan of North
Dakota, chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee ($67,000).
A day after
he wrote a letter on its behalf to Interior Secretary Gale Norton,
the Coushatta tribe sent $5,000 to Sen. Reid's PAC, the Searchlight
Leadership Fund. Shortly thereafter, another tribal client of
Mr. Abramoff's sent another $5,000.
claims to have done nothing illegal, which is probably true. But
if he is innocent, then so too are the overwhelming majority of
Republicans who received money from Mr. Abramoff or his clients.
Mr. Abramoff stole from his clients and cheated on his taxes.
But there is on the public record no evidence to indicate any
lawmaker -- Republican or Democrat -- was aware of, much less
complicit in, those crimes.
so far nothing to indicate that in his relations with lawmakers,
Mr. Abramoff behaved much differently than the other 34,750 lobbyists
in Washington. All expect something in return for the favors they
bestow and the campaign cash they give.
is corrupt. As long as government can enrich or impoverish special
interest groups, they will offer large sums to politicians. And
as long as politicians must rely mostly on special interests for
campaign funds, they will be compromised.
spurred by fear of reprisals at the polls, Republicans seem to
be getting serious about a mess they did not create, but which
they have made worse.
We will see
how serious in the race to succeed Mr. Delay as majority leader,
where reformer John Shadegg of Arizona is squaring off against
two otherwise fine men who are too comfortable with business as
usual in Washington.
just want to reap partisan hay. This may appease the moonbats
who harassed poor Ms. Howell. But the pot calling the kettle black
is unlikely to lead to meaningful reform.