Monday, January 23, 2006

# Posted 9:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CAN LOBBYISTS "DIRECT" DONATIONS TO A POLITICIAN? First, Deborah Howell wrote that Jack Abramoff donated money to both Republicans and Democrats. Whereas responsible liberals such as Kevin Drum and Jay Rosen criticized Howell for irresponsible reporting, the angry left flooded the WaPo with a stream of profanity that forced it to shut down post.blog.

After an extended silence (well, I guess three days is a long time on Media Planet), Howell corrected herself to say that
While Abramoff, a Republican, gave personal contributions only to Republicans, he directed his Indian tribal clients to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties.
Apparently, her case was strong enough to persuade Tim Russert, who brought up the issue twice yesterday morning on Meet the Press. First, there was this exchange with Barack Obama:
MR. RUSSERT: You’ve been appointed, selected as the Democrats’ point man on lobbying reform in the Senate. I want to talk about Jack Abramoff and the scandal now in terms of lobbying and potential reform. According to the Center for Responsive Politics and The Washington Post, Mr. Abramoff and his clients and his associates gave about $3 million to Republicans, about $1.5 million to Democrats. Is this a bipartisan scandal?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think the problem of money in politics is bipartisan...And I think Jack Abramoff and the [K Street] Project, that whole thing is a very particular Republican sin.

MR. RUSSERT: No sin for the Democrats?
Then there was this exchange with Paul Begala:
MR. RUSSERT: Paul Begala, The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive politics investigated this whole Abramoff situation, and there’s a pie chart which breaks up this—explains how the money was distributed, if you will: 66 percent, 2.9 million, went to Republicans; 34 percent, 1.5 million went to Democrats. Senator Reid, Patrick Kennedy, Patty Murray, a lot of prominent Democrats received money from—associates, clients, of Jack Abramoff. Two-to-one Republican, but is it not fair to say it’s not just Republicans that have to be cleaned up, it’s the whole process?

Mr. PAUL BEGALA: Well, yes, to the latter, absolutely...There were a lot of Democrats who didn’t want to clean up the system, quite candidly. They, I think, were hoping to sweep out the corrupt Republicans lobbyists and bring in corrupt Democratic lobbyists.

But on Abramoff, that’s misleading. This is a Republican scandal. Mr. Abramoff is a movement-partisan Republican. There’s no evidence in all of the indictments, in all of the e-mails, in all of the investigation that any of the money that went to Democrats from Indian tribes was directed by Mr. Abramoff. You know, the Indian tribes mostly gave money to Democrats who had Indian tribes and casinos in their state. There’s no evidence at all that it was directed by Mr. Abramoff, and if there were, I’m sure we’d have it by now because it’s coming out.

So I think it’s unfair to say Democrats are part of the Abramoff scandal.
So what is the state of play on the issue of Abramoff "directing" contributions? Is getting money from Abramoff's clients different from getting the cash from Abramoff himself? I really don't know the answer.

Isn't the real issue whether there was a quid pro quo given in exchange for such donations? After all, there's nothing illegal about accepting big donations from Indian tribes or any one else. Yet Begala seems very eager to deny the charges.

I have to make a phone call now, but then I'll hit the blogosphere for some answers. I'm guessing that within ten minutes I'll have found more posts on this subject than I could possibly ever read.
(12) opinions -- Add your opinion


Ask and you shall receive:

Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show. At the same time, his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats.

Absent any hard evidence (e.g. a paper trail) that Abramoff directed his clients to give money to democrats, it appears that he didn't.

Moreover, Abramoff was a Bush Pioneer fundraiser and a Young Republican. Why would he direct anyone to give money to democrats?
He was a lobbyist. Dems were cheaper to buy than Reps (out of power and such) the point was to get a majority of the votes for his clients projects. Why buy expensive majorities, when you can buy the minority, plus a few expensive majority power votes.
Evidence anonymous. Show us the evidence.

There is a tremendous amount of evidence that Abramoff bought Republican votes with his clients' money. That's why he pled guilty. It's in the emails. That's why Ney is so nervous. But there isn't any evidence he bought any Democratic votes. There's no money trail, no email trail. No evidence. No testimony.

I know what you're thinking. You're probably thinking that this was just lobbying. It's not like Jack killed someone. Except that there is the small matter of Abramoff business partner Konstantinos Boulis' dead body. Explain that.

This is a Republican scandal and Republicans get to twist in the wind. The Abramoff scandal is going to get worse for them not better. We will be seeing pictures of Abramoff and Bush sometime next week. And then testimony at trial. ...

Delay, Ney, Reed, Burns, ...

Did I leave out Bush?

When Acting U.S. Attorney for Guam and the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Fred Black was getting a little too close to Jacko, Abramoff called the White House and had Black demoted.
Your evidence was "Gee Indians normally buy off only Dems, but Jacks Indians also bought Reps" Huh? So Jack the lobbist, directed his clients money, used for lobbying (i.e. vote buying), to some more useful votes (i.e. party in power) than his rivals. Your basic arguement boils down to "Dem lobbists were screwing the Indians, Jack was giving them return on investment" The bastard, I hate him already.

evidence - The documentary or oral statements and the material objects admissible as testimony in a court of law.

argument - A course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating truth or falsehood.

So when I was asking you for evidence, I was asking for any proof of your assertions. An example of evidence, here are somea stories on the demotion of Frederick Black:


You can *believe* that Abramoff was an equal opportunity felon, and you can even admire him for it if it makes you feel better. But the facts show that he was an ultra-Republican lobbyist and that his conspirators were also Republicans.
Equal opportunity felon?? Nooo, He directed twice as much of his vote buying to Reps as to Dems. That's a 66/33% opportunity felon, not an equal opportunity felon. My assertions? Your assertions seem to be that others assertions are evidence as asserted by you to be evidence of a "Republican" crime different for the daily crime that congress is in its normal operation. If you feel that Ney is worse than Jefferson or than Cunningham was worse than Traficant. well goodie for you, the dems walk on water as compared to them bad ol reps. Yeah! your side wins and we get the dems paid more money by lobbist than reps. oh joy to the world. Then we can have another house banking scandal, and the reps can play power broker for a while. Yeah again.
Ah, yes, the Republican talking points.

Think about it for a second. There is no money trail from Abramoff to the Democrats. If there were, then there would be worried Democrats and there aren't. Yet you are claiming that Indians who also gave money to the Democrats count in this total. Why aren't those ultra-liberal Federal prosecutors prosecuting Democrats in this?

Now explain to us again why Abramoff and Scanlon gave no money to Democrats, if they were corrupt in a bi-partisan way?

And these riders that Abramoff was having attached weren't attached by Democrats, they were attached by Republicans like Ney.

You seem to be big on moral relativism.
Its now a Republican talking point to say that all the representives are garbage???

In your first post "... his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats".


Do you think there might be a reason? Maybe they are trying buy influence. You think the other side is bad because what they were getting 10% of the take, your side was 90%? You feel good that the 10% of the bribes to reps has stopped while the 90% is still going on. Again Yeah for you. What moral relativism? They are all slime.

May be the Dems arent as bad, they at least appear to stay bought. The reps are getting rid of the money.

Maybe if you open your eyes, rather parrorting every point that your political party throws out, you might notice that it doesnt matter who is in power.

Great. "New leader, same as old leader" put there because some Ditto head like you cant possibly believe that his side is as slimy as the other. Well guess what moron. It is, they are, and no tribe or corporation gives money for any other reason than these people control life or death power over them.
For those of you playing along at home, Anonymous seems to think that I said something when it was actually David quoting the ombudsman of the Washington Post trying to equivocate her way out of bad reporting. Wow.

He further seems to think that I think there is something wrong with Indians or anyone else giving money to politicians to influence them. Not so. Freedom of speech, money equals speech, and right of petition all combined together means that we will always have money influencing politicians. It's the quid pro quo aspect that bothers me.

The aforesaid Republican talking point is that 'Democrats do it and Republicans do it, and therefore by the principle of moral relativism, all is forgiven.' Instead I'd prefer to see lawbreakers (Abramoff, Scanlon, Cunningham, and potentially Ney, Delay, Burns, etc.) go to jail. If any Democrats get caught up in this, they should go to jail too. If Bush gets caught up in this, he should be impeached. The Rule of Law should be applied equally to all.

I think your a prime example of what I'm talking about. A Democract now parroting "Rule of Law" and the Republicans claiming "Political Witchhunt" same song, same verse, same singers swapping solos. In six months you'll be suing to suppress the report.

moral relativism implies a mistaken comparison with two things that are different. i.e. killing in a robbery vs. killing in self defence. The two political parties are the same. Defending one over the other is akin to defending the Crips over the Bloods, or the jewish mafia over the italian mafia.

You miss the whole freaking point. The political government has got its hands in every aspect of our lives. You want Indians to give money to politicans for free speech? Why? Gee someone just dropped 20k in my hands but Noooo, I'm not going to let it influence me. Yeah Right!

I do have to admit your funny in a very sad sort of way. Shouldn't it tell you something when you decide to dismiss as talking points what is obvious to anybody who hasn't already sold their soul to one of the almighty parties.
When Senator Alan Cranston got it for the Keating scandal, I thought it was an ignominious ending to a fine career. But an ending and I thought he got off light. And I have good reason to like Alan Cranston.

Rule of law.
Ouch. This has to hurt:


"The Bush administration's former chief procurement official tipped off lobbyist Jack Abramoff that the government was about to suspend one of his clients from federal contracting, newly filed court papers say."

And ...


"Republican lawmakers urged President George W. Bush on Sunday to release records of White House contacts with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the center of a mushrooming probe into influence peddling."
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