Tuesday, January 03, 2006


The Big Story that Won't Be - Big...

People are no doubt going to get "roughed up" in the Abramoff scandal but as the Christian Science Monitor states:

"Since the whiff of scandal began to emerge around Abramoff, members have been rushing to return his contributions or donate the money to charity. But not everyone who ever took Abramoff-related money or perks is guilty of wrongdoing.

"It's not enough to take a campaign contribution," says Mr. Brand. "What's criminal is accepting the contribution in return for an express agreement to perform an official act. Beyond campaign contributions, one can't accept bribes or gratuities of any kind in return for official acts." Members of the executive branch may also be implicated in the investigation, he says.

"The line between a bribe and a legal contribution is very thin, but it is that line that keeps you out of jail," says Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "The critical element is whether there was an understanding or agreement to take specific action in return for the money."

That last paragraph is an important distinction and factually states that the crimes commited (if any) by members of Congress will not be at all easy to prove. Which is why when all is said and done this whole deal is not going to be the blockbuster people on both sides of the isle think it's going to be. In fact, I'm going on record to place this in the "Fizzout" Story of 2006.

Those familar with "The Hill" know that there are "guardians" or as they are known, "staffers" that keep the "fingerprints" invisible. Fact of life in Washington is that money exchanges hands all the time, the fact of "whether or not anyone one implicated KNEW that the money was in exchange for specific acts" is key. Fact is for any indictments, much less convictions the the burden of proof is going to be huge.

Think I'm just talking out of my caboose?

Newsmax recounts this exchange between Senator Harry Reid - who has yet to return over $67,000 dollars related to the scandal - and Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace:

"In a little-noticed story in November, The Associated Press revealed that Reid had accepted tens of thousands of dollars from an Abramoff client, the Coushatta Indian tribe, after interceding with Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton over a casino dispute with a rival tribe.

Reid "sent a letter to Norton on March 5, 2002," reported the AP. "The next day, the Coushattas issued a $5,000 check to Reid's tax-exempt political group, the Searchlight Leadership Fund. A second tribe represented by Abramoff sent an additional $5,000 to Reid's group. Reid ultimately received more than $66,000 in Abramoff-related donations between 2001 and 2004."

Questioned about the donations last month by "Fox News Sunday's" Chris Wallace, Reid immediately turned testy.

"Don't try to say I received money from Abramoff. I've never met the man, don't know anything," he insisted.

When Wallace protested: "But you've received money from [one of his Indian tribe clients]," the top Democrat shot back: "Make sure that all your viewers understand - not a penny from Abramoff. I've been on the Indian Affairs Committee my whole time in the Senate."

When the Fox host pressed again on the Abramoff-linked donations, a flustered-sounding Reid continued to stonewall, saying: "I'll repeat, Abramoff gave me no money. His firm gave me no money. He may have worked [at] a firm where people have given me money. But I have – I feel totally at ease that I haven't done anything that is even close to being wrong."

That exchange is only a taste of what is coming.

Michelle Malkin is keeping links on the developments and reactions. But again, the A-Bomb will be more like a M-80 when all is said and done.

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