There are two things that you should take away from this story about Tom DeLay and his re-election campaign being in legal limbo as the Scandal-Go-Round turns. One:
Former DeLay spokesman Michael Scanlon, who was an Abramoff business partner, has pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the case, and a former DeLay deputy chief of staff, Tony Rudy, remains under intense scrutiny by prosecutors.
Documents released by federal prosecutors made it clear that Rudy has been in significant legal jeopardy. He is believed to be cooperating with federal officials, and sources close to the case said he is expected to reach a plea deal with the Justice Department. But details of those negotiations have not surfaced.
The prosecutors' documents depicted an unnamed congressional aide, separately identified as Rudy, improperly influencing congressional action on behalf of Abramoff's Indian gaming clients. But there was no indication that DeLay was aware of Rudy's activities.
What Rudy has said or will say to prosecutors about DeLay could prove pivotal in whether the lawmaker is cleared or gets pulled more directly into the federal investigation, said lawyers close to the case.
In court documents released in January, Rudy was described as "Staffer A," who helped Abramoff stop legislation that would have hurt his clients. One bill opposed by Indian gaming interests would have banned Internet gambling; another, opposed by magazine publishers, would have raised postal rates.
In return, Abramoff funneled $50,000 to the political consulting firm of Rudy's wife, Lisa, prosecutors said in court documents. The money was "obtained from (Abramoff's) clients who would and did benefit from Staffer A's official actions," the prosecutors said. Rudy then left Congress to work directly for Abramoff.
[DeLay defense attorney Richard] Cullen said DeLay had no knowledge of any work by Rudy on behalf of Abramoff's clients.