Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Abramoff strikes deal with feds

As I expected, Casino Jack Abramoff today struck a deal with federal prosecuters to serve a lesser sentence for his various and sundry crimes in return for his co-operation in the ongoing investigations of his congresscritter clientele.

Super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea Tuesday to three felony counts sets the stage for the biggest congressional scandal perhaps in decades, certainly since the Republicans took over Congress 10 years ago, pledging clean government.

In exchange for his guilty pleas, in both the Washington case and a separate Florida case in which he was indicted last year, Mr. Abramoff will cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating members of Congress, Capitol Hill aides, and other lobbyists. Political players with ties to Abramoff and his network, who knew the lobbyist was preparing to cut a deal, have been sweating for months. Now they're sweating harder.

Though members of both parties are involved, analysts expect Republicans - who control both houses of Congress - to bear the brunt of the political fallout. Abramoff, who has close ties to former House majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas, allegedly funneled campaign donations to lawmakers, who were treated to lavish trips and meals, in exchange for official acts.

"It could end some careers," says Jennifer Duffy, an analyst at the non- partisan Cook Political report.

Ah yes, one can hope.

But further, I hope the Abramoff scandal not only brings down those who've vioalted the current law, but also exposes the extent of entirely legal corruption now permeating Washington.

For to a large degree it seems that Abramoff's greatest problem is that his dealings with congressmen simply went a little too far beyond the usual wink-wink, nudge-nudge of pay to play politics as usual. Abramoff's quid pro quos were simply too blatent.

And until such a time as election campaigns no longer cost millions per politician, lobbyists will continue to creep along the fine line of what's leagal and what's not. And some, like Abramoff, will occasionally cross over.

[Think Progress has a truly comprehensive breakdown of Abramoff's house of cards]

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