Friday, November 25, 2005
The recent plea agreement of Michael Scanlon, a former partner of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, appears to be one part of a broader investigation of potentially corrupt campaign contributions and gifts to a number of elected officials and congressional staff. A Wall Street Journal article (here) notes that in addition to Reps. Tom DeLay and Bob Ney -- who was identified in the Scanlon plea documents as "Representative #1" -- Rep. James Doolittle of California and Montana Senator Conrad Burns are also involved in the investigation. In addition, upwards of 17 current and former staffers, including a number form Rep. DeLay's office, are also involved in the spreading probe.
An AP story (here) discusses a number of campaign contributions from Indian tribes who retained Abramoff as their lobbyist to Representatives and Senators near the time of congressional action that benefited the tribes. While none of the contributions appear to be illegal in themselves, their connection to legislative acts and contacts by the Congressmen with federal agencies related to tribal business raise questions about whether there was a quid pro quo arrangement. Based on the Scanlon plea, the investigation is being conducted by the Public Integrity and Fraud Sections of the Department of Justice, and the number of potential subjects (and targets) likely means the initial phase of the inquiry will take months. Given the number of potential witnesses and targets, the investigation will contribute to the already-booming employment of the District of Columbia's white collar crime bar. (ph)