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Old November 22nd 05, 07:27 PM posted to
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Default OT Republican Congress Scandal of The Century

The Biggest Scandal In Congress In Over A Century

Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's "house of cards" has taken a big
hit. Michael Scanlon, former spokesman for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) and
lobbying colleague of Abramoff, was right in the middle of Abramoff's
deck. Yesterday, Scanlon pleaded guilty to one count of federal
"conspiracy with others to commit bribery, mail and wire fraud, and
honest services fraud" to cheat Abramoff's Indian tribal clients out of
millions of dollars. He now faces "a maximum of five years in prison, a
$250,000 fine and repayment of $19.7 million to clients." But this case
isn't going to end with Scanlon. Part of the plea deal is that he
agrees to fully cooperate with Justice Department prosecutors. "What
you're building is a ladder. You have Abramoff at the intermediate
step, elected officials above him, and Scanlon...underneath," explained
Stan Brand, former counsel to Congress. "He knows where all the bodies
are buried," said a congressional aide who worked with Scanlon. Expect
what Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) called "a disgusting story of greed
unlike any [other]" to further unfold in Scanlon's testimony.

'YOU IZ DA MAN': Abramoff has already been indicted in Florida on
unrelated fraud and conspiracy charges and "his day in court...[may]
only [be] a matter of time." He and Scanlon worked very closely --
Abramoff at one point gushed to his colleague, "How can I say this
strongly enough: YOU IZ DA MAN" -- and collected about $82 million from
his tribal clients from 2000-2004. In a scheme the duo termed
"gimme-five," Abramoff "would direct tribes to hire Scanlon's public
relations firm without telling them Scanlon had agreed to kick back
half of the profits to Abramoff." At one point, the two men bilked the
Coushatta tribe out of $1 million for a "public affairs" strategy, but
then rerouted the money to a charity Abramoff had founded, "which was
paying to build a school for his children and give 'sniper training'
courses in Israel." Throughout their swindles, Abramoff and Scanlon
showed a wild arrogance and contempt for their clients. In e-mail
exchanges between the two men, "it is the junior partner who often
displays his thirst for wealth. 'I want all their money!!!' [and]
'Weeez gonna be rich!!!'" wrote Scanlon. At another point, he referred
to the clients as "monkeys" and "troglodytes."

SCANLON'S PLEA MAKES CONGRESS NERVOUS: "I think this has the potential
to be the biggest scandal in Congress in over a century," said Thomas
E. Mann of the Brookings Institution. Already in hot water is Rep. Bob
Ney (R-OH), who has received a subpoena from the grand jury
investigating Abramoff and was named as "Representative #1" in
Scanlon's indictment. Abramoff and Scanlon provided Ney and his staff
with a "lavish" Scotland golf trip, tickets to sporting events,
expensive dinners, and political contributions. In return, Ney "agreed
to 'support and pass legislation'" benefiting their clients. Sen.
Conrad Burns (R-MT) also helped the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan,
one of Abramoff's clients, "win a $3 million government award." DeLay,
who has been charged on money laundering and conspiracy in an unrelated
Texas case, may soon face more trouble. "It's likely that Abramoff has
lots of dirt on Tom DeLay," said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for
Public Justice. DeLay traveled to Scotland on a trip paid for by
Abramoff, an arrangement illegal by congressional rules, as well as on
a trip in 1997 to Russia, "underwritten by business interests lobbying
in support of the Russian government" and arranged by Abramoff.

RIGHT-WING HIDING IN THE WINGS: David Safavian, former head of the
powerful White House Office of Management and Budget, has already gone
down as a result of the Abramoff scandals, arrested in September on
charges of "lying and obstructing a criminal investigation" into
Abramoff. Last week, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee heard
testimony from Italia Federici, president of the Council of Republicans
for Environmental Advocacy (CREA), about her "unspoken deal" with
Abramoff. The lobbyist funneled nearly $500,000 in client money to
CREA, and in return, Federici offered him access "to at least two of
her close friends, [Secretary of the Interior Gale] Norton and Deputy
Secretary J. Steven Griles." Former Christian Coalition director, Ralph
Reed, received $10,000 for his campaign to be chair of the Georgia
Republican party, paid for Abramoff's tribal clients, unbeknownst to
those clients. Additionally, Abramoff actively sought out Reed's
guidance "in disguising Indian tribal money sent to anti-gambling
campaigns whose leaders were wary of accepting casino cash."

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