Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Top Republicans Give Up Abramoff Donations

Talk about "running scared." Here's another thrilling episode of The Jack Abramoff Show! This is from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON - President Bush, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his successor Roy Blunt Wednesday joined the growing list of officials shedding political donations from Jack Abramoff, the once powerful lobbyist who has agreed to testify in a broad-ranging political corruption investigation.

Jack Abramoff leaves Federal Court in Washington Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2006. The once-powerful lobbyist pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud, agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors investigating influence peddling that has threatened powerful members of the U.S. Congress. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Bush's re-election campaign is giving up $6,000 in campaign contributions connected to Abramoff, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud, corruption and tax evasion charges in Washington. The lobbyist was due in federal court in Miami Wednesday afternoon to plead guilty to fraud charges stemming from his purchases of a Florida gambling boat fleet called SunCruz.

Bush, DeLay and Blunt joined House Speaker Dennis Hastert in announcing plans to either return campaign contributions from Abramoff or give them to charity. Several others announced in December that they were giving back Abramoff's donations to their campaigns.

Abramoff raised at least $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney '04 re-election campaign, earning the honorary title "pioneer" from the campaign. But the campaign is giving up only $6,000 directly from Abramoff, his wife and one of the Indian tribes that he worked to win influence for in Washington. The money is being donated to the
American Heart Association.

Abramoff, his wife and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan each donated $2,000 to the Bush campaign, said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt. The rest of the money that Abramoff brought in was from other individuals whom he encouraged to donate to Bush.

"At this point, there is nothing to indicate that contributions from those individual donors represents anything other than enthusiastic support for the (Bush-Cheney) BC-04 relection campaign," Schmitt said.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday that Bush does not know Abramoff personally, although it's possible that the two met at holiday receptions. Abramoff attended three Hanukkah receptions at the Bush White House, the spokesman said.

DeLay will give campaign contributions connected to Abramoff to charities, his spokesman, Kevin Madden, said in an e-mail Wednesday. The Texas Republican received at least $57,000 in political contributions from Abramoff, his lobbying associates or his tribal clients between 2001 and 2004. DeLay is now awaiting trial in Texas on charges of laundering campaign money used in races for the state legislature.

Blunt, a Missouri Republican whose political action committee received $8,500 from Abramoff between 1999 and 2003, plans to give that much to charity, a spokeswoman said.

The Republicans are especially scared, now that Abramoff has agreed to talk to federal prosecutors. What I find especially ironic is how the Republicans are now suddenly finding "honesty" and "accountability" in the returning of their campaign contributions donated by Abramoff. It is as if they are saying, "Well, we gave back our donations from Abramoff, so now we're innocent. We have a conscious." Of course, those same congressmen never had any "crisis of their conscious" when Abramoff gave those donations for legislative favors in the first place. I especially love RNC spokeswoman Tracy Schmitt's comment that Abramoff's donations were nothing more than "than enthusiastic support for the (Bush-Cheney) BC-04 reelection campaign." COME ON! Are you telling me that a powerful lobbyist as Abramoff is going to donate his time to raise $100,000 for the Bush re-election campaign because he enthusiastically supports Bush? Someone of Abramoff's caliber is not going to donate that kind of time and money, unless he expects to get something back from the Bush administration--specifically government favors from his clients. What we have here is a slick, Republican money-making machine--where corporate interests give money to Republican congressmen in return for legislation, favorable to the same corporate interests. The more money the corporations gave, the more legislative goodies they received. Now we have the top lobbyist in this Republican money-making game revealing the inner-workings of this scam to the federal prosecutors. Returning donations are not going to save these Republicans from their criminal acts. The damage has been done to this country.

Finally, I should leave you with this wonderful quote from the star of our show himself, Jack Abramoff. After pleading guilty in federal court, Abramoff apoligized, saying:

"Words will not ever be able to express my sorrow and my profound regret for all my actions and mistakes," Abramoff said. "I hope I can merit forgiveness from the Almighty and those I've wronged or caused to suffer."

No comments: