Abramoff Scandal- Democratic Leaders Under Investigation

“This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money…There’s no evidence that I’ve seen that Jack Abramoff directed any contributions to Democrats. I know the Republican National Committee would like to get the Democrats involved in this. They’re scared. They should be scared. They haven’t told the truth. They have misled the American people. And now it appears they’re stealing from Indian tribes. The Democrats are not involved in this.”

DNC Chairman Howard Dean
Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer
January 8, 2006

The Washington Times reports that three Republicans and two democrats including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Vice Chairman Of The Senate Panel Currently Investigating Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, were named in the first group of politicians to be investigated in the Abramoff scandal:

A Justice Department investigation into influence-peddling on Capitol Hill is focusing on a “first tier” of lawmakers and staffers, both Republicans and Democrats, say sources close to the probe that has netted guilty pleas from lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Law-enforcement authorities and others said the investigation’s opening phase is scrutinizing Sens. Conrad Burns, Montana Republican; Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat; and Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, along with Reps. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, and Bob Ney, Ohio Republican.

A source working with the Justice Department on the investigation told The Washington Times that Abramoff was questioned during several interviews about the lawmakers and their purported ties to the lobbyist and his former clients.

The source said prosecutors asked Abramoff whether the lawmakers had performed “official acts” in exchange for campaign cash or other favors. Although it is unknown whether any of the five will be charged in the case, the source said Abramoff was being “prepped” by five Justice Department attorneys in that event.

Others familiar with the investigation confirmed the names of the three Republican and two Democratic legislators.

Senator Byron Dorgan, the Vice Chairman Of The Senate Panel Currently Investigating Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, received at least $79,300 from Abramoff and his associates and clients.


Dorgan even held a fundraiser in an Abramoff Skybox:

The Choctaw tribe, an Abramoff client that was a primary focus of the Senate hearings, sponsored a fundraiser on March 28, 2001, for Dorgan’s political group, the Great Plains Leadership Fund. The event treated Dorgan and his donors to a bird’s-eye view of a professional hockey game from a skybox Abramoff leased in Washington’s MCI Center, while lobbyists got the chance to bend his ear.

In December, Dorgan said he would not step down from the investigating committee.

You would think that this might be enough to get the Senator to step down off of the investigating committee!

It looks like it wasn’t much of a smackdown, Howard Dean gave “Wolfie”, after all!

The Washington Times has another article today directly contradicting Howard Dean’s statements from Sunday. (via Lucianne)

Update 1: (Wednesday AM) The Democrats are having a hard time with this and are actually upset about the anonymous source from the article. Sad! They are accusing the Republicans of receiving lavish gifts. It makes you wonder what they call expensive SkyBox seats?

Update 2: (Wednesday AM) I agree with Irish Pennants, It’s like trading a queen for a pawn.

Update 3: (Thursday AM) The Anchoress has a link to a detailed list of recipients.

Update 4: (Thursday PM) Dueling Anonymous Sources! Another anonymous source claims that Harry Reid is not being investigated. The Justice Department is not commenting on who is being investigated or not. However, a Washington lawyer says he has no doubt that Democrats will be investigated.

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