Wednesday, January 04, 2006

109th Congress Returns With a Bang

Though the 109th Congress will not return to Washington until January 31st of this year (they assembled yesterday as is required by the Constitution but then adjourned for a month-long extension of their Christmas vacation), its exploits have already electrified the political scene and made for a scandalous start to 2006. Yesterday, high-powered lobbyist Jack Abramoff plead guilty in federal court to conspiracy, tax evasion, and fraud. Abramoff now faces up to eleven years in prison and millions of dollars in restitution payments.
Among other things, the disgraced former Washington insider admitted to corrupting members of Congress and defrauding his (primarily Native American) clients out of a whopping $25 million of their own money. While Abramoff's guilty plea isn't much of s surprise to anyone who's been following the whole DeLay crowd, the implications are still bigger than perhaps anyone realized.
As people faced with time in federal prison so often do, Abramoff cut a deal with prosecutos by which he would reveal the names of others involved in his seedy dealings in exchange for a reduced sentence (before the plea he had been looking at a maximum thirty-year sentence).
Abramoff is expected to implicate a total of roughly six lawmakers, almost all of them certainly Republican, who participated with him in activities that were illegal. One of these men, Representative Bob Ney (R-OH) has already been identified to the public. In the court documents, the lawmaker in question is identified as simply Representative 1, but there is really no one else it could possibly be. The papers reference a Congressman who took several bribes that included a lavish golfing trip to Scotland, a trip that Ney actually did go on (at the time, Abramoff declared that the money used to finance the vacation had been donated to charity).
What does this mean for the Republican majority? Well, it certainly can't be good.

Continuing story

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