Friday, March 31, 2006

Oh, beauty

The other day, Jack Abramoff was sentenced in Florida for his role in the casino fraud case, with his sentencing in federal court delayed because of his cooperation in naming people. Now, Tony Rudy, Tom DeLay's former chief of staff, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy for his part in the Abramoff scandal. The plea includes admitting that he got DeLay to kill a bill that would hurt Abramoff's clients in return for various gifts and favors. Out and out bribery, and the really nice thing about this? DeLay and Bob Ney now will have to face the fact that this plea will likely be entered into the record in DeLay's money-laundering trial and the impending criminal prosecution of Ney by the Justice Dept.

Oh, it's a wonderful day in the neighborhood. DeLay is in much hotter water today, and Ney is quaking in his boots as all the people around him, like Tom Noe and Abramoff, are getting indicted and/or convicted of crimes. Conrad Burns is running scared, trying like hell to shake Abramoff, but the local Montana press has been digging for months on end, and keep pulling up more skeletons. This looks like it's going to make ABSCAM look like a mudhole next to the tar pit that is Abramoff's operation.

And let's be clear. Abramoff did not bribe Democrats. He is a Republican who bribed Republicans for legislation. The Dorgan and Reid memes being spread by the GOP are crap. There is a susbstantial difference between taking money from people who had donated to them BEFORE Abramoff represented them and people who directly wrote or altered or killed legislation due to Abramoff bribes, especially since their interest came only AFTER the bribes had been passed out. Furthermore, only Republicans are being named in indictments by the Republican Justice Department. Only Republicans have been convicted of these bribery charges (Abramoff, Rudy, Duke Cunningham). Only Republicans keep popping up with dirty money (Katharine Harris, Virgil Goode, DeLay, Ney, Burns, Cunningham, et al.)

No matter what the GOP tries to say, this is a Republican problem, and they are not showing any seriousness about cleaning up. And, in fairness, some of California's Democrats are being weak on this too. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer voted against the independent ethics body in the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi seems to have lost her nerve when she pulled the Dems ethics report by Louise Slaughter off the Web once the GOP complained. I do give kudos to Barack Obama and (God, I never thought I'd say this) Chuck Grassley, who pushed for much tougher reforms.