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A Faerie's Farthing

Flitting through the internets looking for sparkly bits. All content mine and not to be reproduced without permission.

Location: All Material Copyrighted, United States

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Skybox of Iniquity

Skybox of Iniquity

Once again, give it up for Knight-Ridder! It would seem they're one of the only newspaper groups still practicing something akin to reporting - unlike the JINOS at Fox, et al. They've done a write-up of Abramoffia and it is quite thorough indeed. It also offers up some superlative quotes and even approaches snarky:

It was J. Steven Griles' turn to testify Nov. 2, but it could have been any number of people.

Griles, who denies wrongdoing, is just the latest in a line of Republican officials and conservative leaders to be linked to Abramoff, who has been accused of mocking the laws that govern money and influence in American politics.

The hearing was a sharp reminder that while White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby dominate the headlines, Abramoff remains — according to some observers — the Republican Party's most dangerous problem.

...Because Abramoff was so close to the power structure and fundraising mechanisms of the Republican Party, "he knows where a lot more of the bodies are buried," said Bill Allison, spokesman for the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan ethics watchdog group.

As they point out, this is the scandal that's going to just explode onto the scene after quietly snowballing in the background. It isn't getting much press and your average citizen probably wouldn't know Scanlon from Scooter anyway. But it is definitely in some people's thoughts, albeit in an infamous sort of way.

"I don't think we have had something of this scope, arrogance and sheer venality in our lifetimes," Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote recently.

...What sets this tale apart, what makes it truly extraordinary, is the extent and degree of the apparent exploitation and deceit," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Chairman Kevin Sickey of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, one of Abramoff's aggrieved clients, testified last week that the e-mails also offered a rare glimpse into the legal "underworld of government affairs." "He is the golden-boy-gone-bad of the American political system," said Sickey.

...Thousands of e-mails subpoenaed by Senate investigators indicate a man who was publicly dedicated to conservative ideals while privately committed to enriching himself. His public descent began before the Indian Affairs Committee in September 2004, where he and partner Scanlon, DeLay's former press secretary, were found to have charged Indian tribes more than $66 million while privately referring to their clients as "monkeys" and "troglodytes."

..."The Congress and the United States government became Jack Abramoff's personal playground," said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who has long complained of Abramoff's influence in the Northern Marianas Islands, a U.S. territory that Abramoff helped keep free from U.S. minimum-wage and immigration laws. "But Abramoff was only able to succeed because he had willing partners within the Congress and this administration."

Predictably, Abramoff's resonse has largely been whinging about being put in the "impoosible position of not being able to defend himself." Yes, well; it is kind of hard to defend yourself when you plead the fifth, you know.

Abramoff invoked Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination when called before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee last year. Through a spokesman, he denies wrongdoing.

This man and his lawyers clearly lack any sense of irony.

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff is under investigation by at least three federal agencies and two Senate committees for his dealings with members of Congress, their staffs and his clients.

...According to documents released by Senate investigators, he directed his clients — often unregulated entities that included U.S. territories, Indian tribes and Internet gaming clients — as to how much and where to direct their political contributions.

The article manages to hit just about all of the known strands of Abramoff's web, including the Florida murder story. It also provides a lovely list of the people involved and the relationships, etc. The starring roles:

Rep. Tom DeLay: DeLay, former House majority leader, called Abramoff "one of my closest and dearest friends" and was allied with Abramoff in populating the lobbying industry with former Republican staff members, including his own. The House ethics committee is looking into three trips made by DeLay that were paid for by Abramoff or his clients.

David Safavian: A former lobbying partner of Abramoff's, Safavian was chief of staff of the General Services Administration before he was arrested Sept. 19 and charged with lying to federal investigators about his dealings with Abramoff. He has pleaded not guilty.

Michael Scanlon: A former press secretary for DeLay, he partnered with Abramoff in a lobbying/public-relations business that took in more than $82 million from 12 American Indian tribes between 2001 and 2003. He entered a guilty plea Monday to a charge that he and the lobbyist conspired to bribe public officials, including a senior Republican member of Congress, and defrauded Indian tribes of millions of dollars.

Watching this "astonishing, even by jaded Washington standards of palm greasing" web unravel will simply be too much fun.


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3:10 AM  

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