Wednesday, September 28, 2005

So much corruption, so little time

Has this ever happened to you? You've just finished a meal at a nice restaurant and the waiter rolls up an enormous desert cart, filled with so many lucious tidbits that it's just impossible to choose?

That's almost how I feel when confronted with the all-you-can-eat buffet of Republican corruption stories now surfacing.

Latest of course is former presidential hopeful Bill Frist's "Martha Stewart" problem (and I'm talking insider trading, not burnt brownies).

And speaking of Brownies, let us not forget the BushCorp™ cronyism that put political hacks like Michael Brown in charge of critical agencies like FEMA, to disastrous, and for too many, fatal effect.

And, of late, you may have heard of David H. Safavian, BushCorp™'s top procurement official, who, while overseeing billions in federal spending, was being wined and dined by the increasingly infamous "Casino Jack" Abramoff. Mr. Safavian, it seems, showed poor judgment not only by acquiescing to Mr. Abramoff's blandishments, but by then lying about it to federal investigators. Oops.

"Casino Jack", as it happens, finds himself increasingly involved in any number of GOP corruption stories, his ties to Tom Delay, and Karl Rove have gotten fairly wide media play.

Today's NYT now ferrets out another Abramoff crony, former Attorney General John Ashcroft:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 - The Justice Department's inspector general and the F.B.I. are looking into the demotion of a veteran federal prosecutor whose reassignment nearly three years ago shut down a criminal investigation of the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, current and former department officials report.

They said investigators had questioned whether the demotion of the prosecutor, Frederick A. Black, in November 2002 was related to his alert to Justice Department officials days earlier that he was investigating Mr. Abramoff. The lobbyist is a major Republican Party fund-raiser and a close friend of several Congressional leaders.

Colleagues said the demotion of Mr. Black, the acting United States attorney in Guam, and a subsequent order barring him from pursuing public corruption cases brought an end to his inquiry into Mr. Abramoff's lobbying work for some Guam judges.

Colleagues of Mr. Black, who had run the federal prosecutor's office in Guam for 12 years, spoke on condition of anonymity because of Justice Department rules that bar employees from talking to reporters. They said F.B.I. agents questioned several people in Guam and Washington this summer about whether Mr. Abramoff or his friends in the Bush administration had pushed for Mr. Black's removal. Mr. Abramoff's internal e-mail messages show that he boasted to clients about what he described as his close ties to John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, and others at the department.

Mr. Black's colleagues said that similar questions had been raised by investigators for the Justice Department's inspector general's office, which serves as the department's internal watchdog.

Ah yes, I think I'll try the mud pie.

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