Thursday, November 16, 2006
The Usual Suspects are leaping gleefully upon the report that unnamed "investigators" have said Jack Abramoff said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was among the "six or eight corrupt Democrats" whom he claims are recipients of his illegal largesse. Those of us in the reality-based world are reaching for our pointed stakes. We know it's an Undead Lie, that won't stay decently buried no matter how often we kill it. When the Abramoff scandal first hit the headlines, the MSM kept repeating that both Republicans and Democrats got contributions from Abramoff, no matter how often fact-checkers like Media Matters cited the records that showed Abramoff contributed only to Republicans. They eventually realized that every time they said it, we'd refute it, so then they switched to claiming that Abramoff's clients gave money to Democrats at Abramoff's behest. That one didn't pass the "yes, but" test. Yes, Democrats received contributions from Abramoff clients. But, the tribes had made contributions to these Democrats even before they were Abramoff clients. And they didn't get anything from the Democrats that the Democrats wouldn't have done anyway (for example, Harry Reid, the senator from Nevada, voting on gambling issues; Byron Dorgan, the senator from South Dakota with its large Native American population, voting on issues affecting the tribes; Rep. Patrick Kennedy, founding the Congressional Native American Caucus). It's likelier that Abramoff scammed his clients by claiming credit for votes that he didn't influence. And as Bloomberg reported almost a year ago, after the tribes became Abramoff clients, the Democrats got a smaller share of their money than Republicans did, which evidence suggests that, far from directing the tribes' money to Democrats, Abramoff was directing the money away from them. Is there any more truth to this new report of Democratic corruption than there was to the old one? Paul Kiel of TPMMuckraker says no. Unlike the so-called liberal media, Kiel took the time to investigate the claim.
Curious to learn more, we called a number of Abramoff's former colleagues from his heyday at the Greenberg Traurig lobby firm to see how the story struck them. "Jack has not met eight Democrats in Washington," one lobbyist told us. He and others spoke on the condition of anonymity, because they did not want further publicity connecting them to Abramoff. Also, it should be noted that the lobbyists we spoke with continue to rely on access to lawmakers like Reid. Ron Platt, a Democratic lobbyist who worked for a time with Abramoff on behalf of several clients and managed relations (such as they were) with Reid and other Democrats, said, "It's beyond my belief that he would have trusted a Democratic senator or house member." "Jack Abramoff would never let any Democratic lobbyist, even on his team, manage one of his client matters," said Platt. Several expressed disbelief that Abramoff had the goods on Reid, as the ABC post suggested. "As far as I know, I can say that there is not a shred of truth to any allegation that anything Reid did that may have benefited a Greenberg client was done for anything of value given to Sen. Reid by Jack Abramoff or anyone else at Greenberg," one former associate said, noting that the few actions Reid took which benefited Abramoff's clients were consistent with positions the Nevada senator had long espoused.I'm going to out on a limb here and make two predictions: (1) no Democrat will be indicted in connection with the Abramoff scandal; and (2) we're going to hear about "corrupt Democrats" and especially "Majority Leader Reid's ethics problem" during the entire 110th Congress, with a sharp increase in "reminders" before the 2008 elections.
The media is behaving like an enemy of the United States.
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