Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Abramoff Pleads Guilty to Florida Charges, and the Politicians Jump Ship

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to pending conspiracy and wire fraud charges related to his purchase of the SunCruz gambling ships, his second acknowledgment of criminal conduct in two days.  Because the conduct took place before 2002, the maximum penalty for each is five years, and his sentence will coincide with the one he receives for the corruption and tax evasion charges to which he pled guilty in Washington, D.C.  A copy of the plea agreement is available on Findlaw (here).  With Abramoff's acknowledgment of guilt, and the speculation regarding who he may try to implicate, a number of politicians have returned his donations or said they will donate them to charity.  That includes President Bush, whose campaign committee will donate $6,000 to the American Heart Association -- but not the $100,000 Abramoff helped to raise through donations by others as a "Pioneer" in the 2004 campaign -- and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who received $57,000.  It seems that those who willingly accepted Abramoff's largess are trying to put as much distance as possible between themselves and his group of lobbyists.  An AP story (here) discusses the reaction of politicians who received Abramoff campaign contributions. (ph)

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Corruption, Fraud | Permalink

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