SEPTEMBER 08, 2008
Yet another prominent political figure got indicted this week for his role in the biggest public corruption scandal to rock Congress, the Jack Abramoff lobbying fiasco.
The massive scheme has already led to 13 convictions of lawmakers, lobbyists, congressional staffers and Bush Administration officials associated with the jailed lobbyist who pleaded guilty in 2006 to showering lawmakers and members of their staff with upscale European vacations, sports and entertainment tickets, expensive meals and other pricey gifts in exchange for special favors.
The powerful Republican lobbyist raked in millions of dollars by selling his coveted Washington connections—both Democrat and Republican—to wealthy Native American groups seeking to gain influence in the capital. Abramoff also had regular access to the White House as illustrated in U.S. Secret Service visitor logs accessed by Judicial Watch.
Among those already busted for taking bribes from Abramoff are a pair of high-ranking Justice Department officials (Deputy Chief of Staff Robert Coughlin and Sue Ellen Wooldridge, a top environmental prosecutor), a congressman (Bob Ney of Ohio) and a Deputy Interior Secretary (Steven Griles).
A few months ago, a longtime senior staff member to Oklahoma Representative Ernest Istook (John Albaugh) pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy for accepting gifts—dinners, drinks, thousands of dollars worth of sporting event and concert tickets and campaign contributions—from Abramoff who was seeking specific transportation legislation from Congress.
This week’s indictment is against the prominent congressional aide of a veteran lawmaker—Representative John Doolittle of California—who is also being investigated in the scandal. The aide, Kevin Ring, is charged with nearly a dozen counts of conspiring to corrupt congressional and executive branch officials by giving them things of value in exchange for their help.
Last year the FBI raided Doolittle’s Virginia home and the northern California lawmaker, who is a close friend of Abramoff’s, is said to be next on the federal indictment hit list. Doolittle got $14,000 in direct campaign contributions from the convicted lobbyist and an additional $130,000 from his clients and associates. Abramoff also paid a consulting company owned by Doolittle’s wife more than $66,000 and records relating to that questionable deal have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury.
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