T Nation

The GOP and Jack Abramoff


#1

Happy New Year everybody! I ran across this article showing the mad rush by the GOP to distance themselves from this jerkoff and thought that I would share.

http://www.comcast.net/news/index.jsp?cat=GENERAL&fn=/2006/01/05/297195.html

GOP Politicians Dump Abramoff Donations
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer
5 hours ago

WASHINGTON - As politicians led by President Bush scrambled to ditch campaign contributions from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich cautioned Republicans they risk losing control of congressional majorities if they try to put all the blame on lobbyists.

"You can't have a corrupt lobbyist unless you have a corrupt member (of Congress) or a corrupt staff. This was a team effort," Gingrich told a Rotary Club lunch in Washington on Wednesday. He called for systematic changes to reduce the enormous financial advantages that incumbents have in congressional elections.

As head of a conservative movement based on ethics concerns and promises to curb federal growth, Gingrich led the GOP in 1994 to its first House majority in 42 years. But he decided to resign in 1998 when Republicans lost seats a year after Gingrich himself was fined $300,000 for violating House rules barring the use of tax-exempt foundations for political purposes.

He said the GOP leaders, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., need to resist mere "lobbyist bashing" and push campaign finance changes, along with smaller and more effective government.

"If they intend to retain a majority, then ... they need to take the lead in saying to the country we need to clean this mess up," Gingrich told reporters. "But any effort to push this under the rug, to say this is just one bad apple: That's baloney."

So far the primary response by politicians has been to separate themselves from campaign contributions they took from Abramoff or Indian tribes he represented _ either by returning them or donating them to charity.

In just the two days since Abramoff pleaded guilty Tuesday in Washington to three federal felonies, more than 40 elected federal officials have given up Abramoff donations, joining a dozen who did so last year.

This week's list was headed by Republicans Bush, Frist, Hastert, House Majority Leader Roy Blunt of Missouri and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, who faces legal problems of his own. But some Democrats joined in, including Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

Republicans dominated the list _ not surprising given that Abramoff, a friend of DeLay's, gave far more to them than to Democrats.

The scandal's effect on the 2006 election was on the mind of many who jettisoned the donations.

"I wish it hadn't happened because it's not going to help us keep our majority," conceded Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Ohio.

As Abramoff pleaded guilty to a second set of felony charges Wednesday, this time in Florida, officials said Bush's 2004 re-election campaign intended to give up $6,000 in donations from the lobbyist, his wife and a client.

A spokeswoman for Blunt, Burson Taylor, said, "While we firmly believe the contributions were legal at the time of receipt, the plea indicates that such contributions may not have been given in the spirit in which they were received."

Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, under federal investigation over his links to Abramoff, joined in the rush.

The Republican scramble to shed cash that once was eagerly sought underscored the potential political problem the party faces in this election year.

Gingrich told reporters he thinks Republicans should elect a permanent replacement for DeLay. In addition to links with Abramoff, the Texan is battling campaign finance charges in his home state of Texas but hopes to regain his leadership post.

Regula, who came to Congress in 1973 and survived post-Watergate elections that crippled his party, said the implications of the Abramoff plea deals could be devastating for the GOP. "I was in the minority for 22 years and the majority for 11, and having tried it both ways, I definitely prefer the majority."

Frist issued a statement placing ethics issues on the Senate agenda for the year. He said he intends to "examine and act on any necessary changes to improve transparency and accountability for our body when it comes to lobbying."

For their part, House Democrats signaled they intend to make ethics an element in their drive to gain a majority in next fall's elections.

"It's more important for these Republicans to come clean with the American people about ... what (they) did for Jack Abramoff and his special interest friends in return for those campaign contributions," said Sarah Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the House Democratic campaign organization.


#2

This is not news. Do you not remember how much money both sides of the aisle returned that was contributed by Enron? And if I'm not mistaken, Cankles had to give a shitload of ill-gotten cash back becausea member of her own staff was falsifying expense reports.

This is not new - it happens all the time.


#3

And not a half a page down, this topic has already been introduced:

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=871495


#4

Nice how the article subtly implies that the GOP are the only ones involved, when we don't know which donations were legit, and which were not. There was something like 77 Democrats who also took donations through Abramoff. Republicans got the larger amount total donations.

None of this matters until we actually know who had a quid pro quo with this.

Anyone taking bribes should get into trouble, no matter which party.

The whole system does need to be changed though. How about these changes:

I think there should be no limit on how much can be donated to a political party, or a politician's campaign. (This will make more sense in a moment.)

All donations must be kept confidential. All donations go through a single government entity, the amounts are combined with other donations, and one day a month those donations are added to their "war chest".

This way lobbyists cannot what money they donated, or even if they donated money. People can lobby, and not have donated a dime. The politicians will never know.

They also may no longer trust anyone who implies, or even says straight out that they donated money to their campaign.

I also think all money should be held in escrow accounts, so a disinterested party can document, and direct all funds. It would be that much harder to launder the money.


#5

Okay, Okay, My bad. I just got back from vacation and I haven't looked at every thread yet. Had I known, I would have gone there.


#6

I know that this is not new. The fact that it seems to be happening more and more says that there is definitely something wrong with the political system. I have been saying for many, many years that it doesn't matter which side of the aisle you're on, they are both corrupt. There is a root problem that exist in the current government setup that needs to be addressed. It seems to be too easy for corruption to florish.


#7

It didn't say that the GOP are the only ones involved, subtly or otherwise. It said that jerkoff, I mean Abramoff, donated far more to Republicans than Democrats. Seeing that the Republicans have been the dominant party for a while, it would make sense that they would get the lion's share of the corrupt monies. However, it never said that the Democrats were innocent. It was pointing out that the GOP was making an obvious effort to shed off the money and trying to distance themselves from the scandal. Since GOP members got the bulk of the money, it's going to be more noticeable.

Also, let's face it, whether you or anyone else wants to admit it or not, the GOP is not very popular right now. One of the big reasons is these types of illegal activities. This is going to slant the media's opinion. If they weren't doing anything wrong, the media wouldn't have anything to slant. J.C. Watts even discussed it in one of his artcles on his website about how corrupt his party has become in such a short time as the majority.

Proving quid pro quo is going to be very difficult to do. You basically want the people who would run the investigation to tell on themselves. No one is dumb enough to do this unless they are backed into a corner and have no choice.

I do wholeheartly agree with you that anyone taking bribes should be fried no matter which party they belong too. I hate corruption!

I think that these are some pretty good ideas. This keeps lobbyists from buying favors because they can't approach the people directly. However, there needs to be a checks in place to make sure that the disinterested party that monitors and directs the funds remains disinterested, or it could be even worse than what we have now.