Let's talk about something other than candidate filings, shall we? How about Jack Abramoff?
Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is under criminal investigation, may agree this week to cooperate with federal officials in a move that former prosecutors say would put U.S. lawmakers in legal jeopardy.
Abramoff's lawyers may tell a U.S. district judge in Miami as early as today whether they've reached a plea agreement with the government ahead of a scheduled wire-fraud trial, according to a person close to the investigation. Judge Paul Huck has scheduled a 3:30 p.m. conference call for a status report on the negotiations.
To get a reduced prison sentence, Abramoff would have to implicate lawmakers in a related probe of his lobbying activities, said Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor and head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
"I believe he has to be giving up members of Congress," Sloan said. "Otherwise, Abramoff is as high as you go."
Some 220 lawmakers received at least $1.7 million in political donations from Abramoff, his associates and nine tribal clients between 2001 and 2004, according to a review of Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service records. Of those, 201 are still in Congress. Republicans received $1.1 million, or 64 percent of the total.
"When this is all over, this will be bigger than any (government scandal) in the last 50 years, both in the amount of people involved and the breadth to it," said Stan Brand, a former U.S. House counsel who specializes in representing public officials accused of wrongdoing. "It will include high-ranking members of Congress and executive branch officials."
Proving bribery requires evidence that lawmakers accepted gifts in return for official favors. Any such deal would normally be made orally in private, said John Kotelly, who prosecuted South Carolina Democrat John Jenrette, one of six congressmen convicted in the Abscam political corruption case in the 1980s.
"A lot of it depends on what kinds of conversations Abramoff had with members of Congress," Kotelly said. "Normally they're smart enough to just talk in generalities."
DeLay's lawyer, Richard Cullen, said he is "not at all apprehensive" about an Abramoff plea. "I would not expect it to involve Mr. DeLay in any way," Cullen said.
Since the Bloomberg story mentioned Abscam, you should read this analysis on Josh Marshall's site. Briefly, Marhsll's correspondent says Abscam wasn't continued despite the likelihood of continued success because to do so would have fundamentally altered the political landscape at the time. Since the Justice Department is about law enforcement, it backed off from what may have been perceived as a political mission. Will that same dynamic happen here with AbramoffScam? Good question. Stay tuned.Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 03, 2006 to Scandalized! | TrackBack