Tom DeLay To Give Up Leadership Post:
Details here.
I'll be interested to see who is elected in his place. It might suggest a lot about how the GOP intends to market itself for the midterm elections.
1.7.2006 1:31pm
The NJ Annuitant (mail):
Of course , I have no inside information, but I think this may have more to do with Abramoff than with Delay's legal issues in Texas. I think the wish is to contrast Delay's resigning his leadership post with Reid's refusal to return the Abramoff money that he received. Also, I think that Delay may have been informed that if he did not resign his post , it would be stipped from him.
1.7.2006 1:40pm
NJ Annuitant, when you refer to "Abramoff money" do you mean that (1) Abramoff gave money to Reid, or (2) Reid received money from someone that was also a client of Abramoff? If (2), is there any proof that Abramoff has any connection with the giving of the money to Reid? If it is not (1) and you do not have proof of any connection between the giving of the money to Reid and Abramoff (other than the the contributor was a client of Reid), why do you refer to it as "Abramoff money?"
1.7.2006 4:15pm
Noah Klein (mail):
I know this is a legal blog, but if we could think about the political issues surrounding this announcement. I was wondering if anybody thinks this will help relieve the Republican Party from the stink of corruption.

I also would suggest that Blunt is most likely to become permanent Majority Leader to try and maintain some consistency. I think the next person most likely to get it is John Boehner. The press has talked about him a lot so they must be hearing some buzz from members. I also think that David Dreier of California might have a shot.

1.7.2006 4:18pm
Splunge (mail):
I think the next person most likely to get it is John Boehner. The press has talked about him a lot so they must be hearing some buzz from members.

Er, no. Surely it has not escaped your attention that the press has its own agenda, which is not often consistent with that of the Republican Party? You here a lot about John McCain from the press, too. Hopefully you don't think that's because he's broadly popular among Republican rank-and-file.

I also think that David Dreier of California might have a shot.

That seems very unlikely. I think the Republican Party regards California as occupied terrority, and not without reason. A leadership post should go to someone who represents the core of the Party, which is why DeLay was good for and at the job, which is why he was Enemy #3 (after GWB and Dick Cheney) to the Democrats and the press. Giving the post to someone who can't do boo for the party in his home state, and who is far from the Party's core constituencies, makes very little sense, regardless of his personal qualities.

In short, look for another true-blue red-state Southerner.
1.7.2006 7:37pm
The NJ Annuitant (mail):
wrightflyer --
I believe the money came from affiliates of Mr. Abramoff. Hillary Clinton returned the money she received from Mr. Abramoff's afiliates but Reid , so far , has refused to do so. I have no PROOF of anything, and I am only going by what I have read in news reports. This is a legal blog, but this topic is calling for political guessing.
1.7.2006 8:23pm
One of Reid's senior staffers took a job with Ambramoff, and while on Abramoff's payroll raised money for Reid, and even held a fundraiser for Reid in Abramoffs offices. It would be hard to paint a picture where the money fron Abramoff's clients was unrelated to Abramoff. Reid also wrote at least one letter on behalf of those clients to the Dept. of Interior.

But that doesn't mean Reid or Delay did anything wrong. I can't believe the corruption in Washington is so bad that lobbiests are offering ileagel bribes indiscriminately. It probably more like they build up confidence over time whidh congressmen are willing to go over the line and then exploit that. Congressmen as powerful as those two don't need to go over the line to haul in the cash. There are lots of others that do need to put out the extra effort to get contributions and they should be rooted out.

I'd love to see a reform neasure that outlawed all corporate money, both profit and non profit, including unions, going to candidates or parties.
1.7.2006 8:25pm
George Gregg (mail):
It is true that many Dems received campaign donations from Abramoff clients. But receiving campaign donations from Abramoff clients is not illegal, nor necessarily even unethical. Hence, there is no inherent need for those folks to give those campaign donations, as long as there was no quid pro quo for the donation.

In fact, not only Reid is keeping such funds, but President Bush is also keeping all of the funds he received from Abramoff clients (about $100k) while only giving back the funds that Abramoff personally donated (about $6k). And other Republicans, such as J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), are also keeping substantial donations given by Abramoff clients. There is nothing inherently wrong, unethical or illegal about this.

However, there also seems to be an attempt by some Republicans to implicate the Dems in shady, if not illegal, dealings with Abramoff. This is not yet established, though. Furthermore, it seems to be quite unlikely that the Dems will be implicated in anywhere near the degree that the Republicans are.

For one thing, Abramoff's personal campaign donations ONLY went to Republicans. For another, he ONLY held fundraising events (including the lavish perks he provided for the congressmen he was aiding) for REPUBLICANS.

When the facts come out about the extent of his plea bargain, there may, indeed, be some Dems implicated in conspiracy, bribery or other shenanigans. But right now, it looks like the Republicans are going to be the ones, by far, involved by the Abramoff illegalities.

Right now, it is NOT a bipartisan scandal, much though some would like it to be. Of course, this may change. As we are often required to say, we need to wait for the facts to come out.
1.7.2006 9:42pm
George Gregg (mail):
The last sentence in that first para should be:

"Hence, there is no inherent need for those folks to give those campaign donations back, as long as there was no quid pro quo for the donation."
1.7.2006 9:44pm
Paul Virkler (mail):
George Gregg,
Maybe it would be fairer to say that Abramoff supported Republicans because he was one and supported democrats to further his business. Why else would he raise money for them
1.8.2006 12:32am
Noah Klein (mail):

I would first like to point out that David Dreier already is in the leadership. He is committee chair of the Rules Committee. This, of course, is the most important committee to running the House, because it establishes the rules for what amendments can be offered and how votes will go on bills.

Second, if you read what I wrote, you would have seen that I said Roy Blunt is most likely to win to keep consistency in the leadership. I was only trying to handicap it and introduce some other people who may challenge Blunt and have a reasonable shot. Dreier, because of his leadership position and his consistent conservative philosophy has a shot. Boehner also has a shot because of his conservative record and his leadership in the House.

One final note on the press. The press may have an agenda and it may not. Despite what I have heard from conservatives throughout my life, I have never seen a consistent agenda from the MSM. I have seen agendas in many different institutions, but I do not think they are what you think they are or are running in the same direction. Ignoring that for a moment and accepting your proposition that the MSM has a consistent agenda, the agenda would not be harmed nor helped by denying or faking rumors of one candidate or another as the leadership of one house or the other. If you will note, the press, especially the Washington Post, were the first to name Nancy Pelosi as the most likely to be minority leader. They also were the first to suggest that Delay would move up from majority whip to leader after the Gingrich resignation.

1.8.2006 1:10am
George Gregg,
You say it hasn't been established that the Dems have engaged with any shady dealings with Abramoff, you are 100% correct. But you don't seem to think the Republicans deserve the same benefit of the doubt.

There should be one standard: if they're dirty kick them out. Now I don't doubt that it is going to be a staple of campaigns this fall that if anyone took money from Abramoff or his clients, then they are dirty. That may not be fair, but why take a chance? In my state of Washington, Maria Cantwell is up for re-election, and she is high up on Abramoff's list of recipients, there isn't any more evidence implicating DeLay than Cantwell with illegality, but I think we in Washington will here more about Cantwell than Delay, because he isn't on the ballot here.

But as for one of the allegations, that Abramoff bribed a staffer to oppose a postal rate increase, I know bribes are bad and all, but can't we make an exception in this case?
1.8.2006 1:26am
Ross Levatter (mail):
Kazinski said:

"I'd love to see a reform neasure that outlawed all corporate money, both profit and non profit, including unions, going to candidates or parties."

I'd love to see a reform measure that outlawed all money going to candidates and parties, period. (How much trouble could they cause if defunded?) I suspect we are equally likely to see our wishes granted.
1.8.2006 2:25am
Jeff Wartman (mail):
It's amazing how quickly the GOP big brass abandoned Delay after the Abramoff indictment. Even Newt was blasting him.

I suppose it's all for the better, though.
1.8.2006 2:36am
Noah Klein (mail):

The charges against Abramoff and Scanlon are that they bribed a Congressman. These charges were proved correct by Abramoff's guilty plea. The Congresman in question has been demonstrated to be Bob Ney (R-OH), because the facts of the case and the facts in the Congressional record show it to be Bob Ney.

Second, as to your point that there is no greater evidence against Delay than Cantwell, I would disagree. Scanlon was a Delay staffer. Furthermore, Delay accepted several trips from non-profits run by Abramoff where he had conversations with Abramoff's clients and Delay preformed official actions to address those clients' concerns. No quid pro quo has been proven yet and thus Delay is innocent until proven guilty, but these actions are definately shady and Delay will be investigated for them. Cantwell, on the other hand, has had no charges made against her of a similar nature as far as I know.

I think people are not making the important distinction between Abramoff's clients and Abramoff himself. I have looked through websites that follow campaign contributions and have found no contributions from Abramoff to a Democrat. I have on the other hand read news reports that demonstrate Abramoff's clients gave money to Democrats. Some may see this as a distinction without a difference. I don't. I think that the money Abramoff's clients have given to Democrats may be independent of Abramoff. If not and if Abramoff directed his clients to donate to Democrats, this may not illegal because there may have been no quid pro quo. None of this is publicly known yet. On the other hand, some Republican members' possibly illegal actions have been demonstrated and thus it is not to much of a presumption to say so far this is a Republican scandal even if Democrats received money from Abramoff.

Finally, from all the publicly known information, Republicans seem to be more involved in this than Democrats, but we will soon find out all the relevant information.

1.8.2006 3:18am
KMAJ (mail):
From what I have read, the charges stem not from his personal contributions, but from steering his clients money into their coffers. The three names I have seen most often are Ney, DeLay and Reid. Why Reid ? He was the minority chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Bribery is a very hard charge to prove without official documentation, remember Abramoff is charged with 'attempted bribery'. Some people will fall, I am sure, Abramoff must have some documentation, and others will have their reputations tarnished. It is interesting the silence that has overtaken Congress on both sides of the aisle on Abramoff. It is a pretty long and extensive list that he gave money to and steered his clients money to.

Jack Abramoff Lobbying and Political Contributions, 1999 - 2006

The best thing that will come out of this is serious lobbyist reforms. Abramoff is tied through Kessler with the second largest provider of congressional trips, the Ripon Education Fund. But Ripon is small potatoes when compared to the largest provider, the Aspen Institute, which outspends Ripon by 4 to 1.
1.8.2006 6:12am
Noah Klein (mail):

The names I have heard are Ney, Delay, Burns and possibly Dorgan. I have never heard Reid brought into any discussions of possibly illegal activities. I was hoping you could flush out what the accusations are against Reid and tell me from where you got it.

1.8.2006 7:02am
George Gregg (mail):
Kaz: You say it hasn't been established that the Dems have engaged with any shady dealings with Abramoff, you are 100% correct. But you don't seem to think the Republicans deserve the same benefit of the doubt.

That's not my position. Abramoff has already, in black and white, implicated Republicans in his plea deal (Ney, especially, and very likely DeLay). He has not so implicated, at least as far as we can tell from the text of the plea, any Dems.

For this reason, and for the other reasons, I do not believe that an equivalent degree of suspicion on both parties is supported by what little we do know at this point. So the attempt to paint this as a bipartisan scandal is not reasonable at this stage.

I am glad to get rid of any official or staffer, regardless of party, that has been engaging in illegal/unethical behavior. And as I have said, the more we find out, the more Dems may indeed become implicated in illegal activities. For now, they are not.
1.8.2006 10:37am
I would suggest that anyone who might like to know why the Republican party is probably in more trouble here should google for the "K Street Project."

Essentially, ten years ago, Delay and Abramoff devised a plan to shift the influential lobbyist firms on K Street into the Republican political machine by forcing lobbying firms to employ republicans in exchange for access to policy makers. It was at the time regarded as a brilliant political move, but now that there will be a period of scrutiny regarding lobbying, it will probably be a liability for the Republican party.
1.8.2006 11:33am

You here a lot about John McCain from the press, too. Hopefully you don't think that's because he's broadly popular among Republican rank-and-file.

This sort of "rank-and-file" talk is an attempt to keep the currently-powerful faction of the party in power. McCain is popular among Conservatives, even if he's not popular among Republicans.
1.8.2006 4:27pm
McCain is not real popular with Conservatives. He is popular with middle of the roaders that think we can find common ground with the Democrats. Conservatives appreciate the way he has stood with the President on Iraq, but distrust someone that would sell the first amendment down the river in exchange for incumbent protection.
1.8.2006 9:42pm
George Gregg (mail):
Kaz, not quite.

McCain is popular among centrists, yes. But among my conservative Republican friends, McCain is extremely well liked because of a number of conservative positions he holds, sometimes in opposition to the Republican party.

He's not terribly popular among the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, who somehow persist in thinking and saying they are true conservatives, despite the proof of the past 5 years that they most certainly are not. It's a telling trend in Arizona in recent years that real conservative Republicans are leaving the party and registering as Independents in response to neoconservative excesses, even as many of them continue to support McCain.

But I guess none of that has to do with legal issues to which this blog is purposed. There are plenty of good blogs focusing on politics on the Internet where these issues can be debated well. (NB: Redstate and FreeRepublic are not among them.)
1.9.2006 8:35am