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Abramoff Money: a Republican and/or Democratic Scandal
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, January 09, 2006

To McQ's good point just prior, let me add a bit of an explanation of how politicians are playing gotcha around the edges of this scandal. First, let's concede that this is primarily a Republican scandal. Since Republicans control the Legislative and Executive branches, it follows that lobbyists are buying Republican.

The Democrats aren't pure of heart. They just don't have much to sell.

But there are two different levels of payment being alleged here. There's...
  1. Direct: money that flowed directly from Abramoff and...

  2. Indirect: money that flowed from organizations with which Abramoff was involved. (or, if you prefer, Abramoff Money and Abramoff-related Money)

The Direct Money all went to Republicans. All of it. You can check for yourself at Open Secrets here and here.

The Indirect Money went in both directions, but Republicans got more [$3.41m] than did the Democrats [$1.88m] by a margin of almost 2:1. Here's a good graphic of the breakdown. And here's a text version with more detail.

As far as I know, none of the above is in dispute. The only dispute centers on what contributions should be held against politicians and whether Indirect Money is substantively different than Direct Money. In this, both Republicans and Democrats want to have it both ways. Republicans want to claim that this is a bipartisan scandal, with Democrats on the hook like the Republicans because they took Abramoff-related money. But at the same time, Republicans are disclaiming any taint on the Indirect Money they recieved. The White House recently returned $6000 in Direct Money, but declined to return $94,000 in Indirect Money, claiming "If someone thinks that money is coming in with strings attached, it doesn't get in the door."

Well, if Indirect Money is fine, then somebody ought to tell the National Republican Senatorial Committee, since they're arguing that Democrats have "taken money from Abramoff, his associates, and Indian tribe clients". And by "from Abramoff, his associates, and Indian tribe clients", they mean "from his associates and his clients", but not actually from Abramoff.

And this, by the way, is an example of Indirect Money...
Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), now the Senate minority leader, also wrote Ms. Norton in opposition to the casino. The letter was dated March 5, 2002. On March 6, 2002, one of Mr. Abramoff's tribal clients wrote a $5,000 check to Mr. Reid's Searchlight Leadership Fund. "There is absolutely no connection between the letter and the fundraising," said Mr. Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley. Another coincidence!
Bribery? I have no idea and neither do you. But in some sort of Reverse Uncertainty Principle of political scandals, it will be impossible for politicians and pundits to know whether a donation is scandalous until they know both the form of the donation and the Party of the recipient. Only then will measurement become possible!

Meanwhile, across the aisle, Democrats are all aflutter about the Bush/Cheney campaign keeping the $94,000 in Indirect Money that came from Abamoff-related clients, and the Democratic National Committee has decided to elide the distinction between Direct and Indirect Money and argue that Abramoff "funneled over $3 million to Republicans".

This would be a good time to remind you of the $1.88 million directed to Democrats. You might think Democrats would want to downplay Abramoff-related money in a press release about how this is solely a Republican scandal, but you'd be wrong. They happily cited the Indirect Money when Republicans got it.

When Howard Dean tells Wolf Blitzer than there "are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff", he's right. But the Democrats can't be right when they say that "no Democrats" took money from Abramoff while simultaneously arguing that Abramoff "funneled over $3 million to Republicans".

Either Indirect Money counts or it does not.
  • If it does count, then this is a bipartisan scandal, but Republicans take an almost 2:1 lead over the Democrats in total bribery.

  • If Indirect Money does not count, then it's an all-Republican scandal...but it's also time to stop tossing about the "$3 million to Republicans" figure.

Make up your minds and let the chips fall where they may.

UPDATE:

Glittering Eye points out that, if the Democratic Indirect Money doesn't count and this is a Republican-only scandal, then we're talking "about $200,000 over several years".
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

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Either Indirect Money counts or it does not.
Correct.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Excellent reduction of the issue. And a little dig for both sides.

I’ll add some other mitigating observations to this.

one is that simply getting monies from a client of Abramhoffs is not as bad as it might seem. Afterall many of these senators and congressmen were getting contributions from these same donors long before Jack was on the scene. It makes sense that indian tribes in particular would want to give to congressmen poised to affect indian affairs no matter what jack said.

It’s well know Jack exagerated his congressional influence to his clients. Would he also not have exagerated his influence over his clients donation patterns, and claim creidt where none was due?

Unless we want to say ALL political contributions are tainted, then we can’t fairly fault anyone for the indirect monies, since we can’t say Jack had any role in most cases. On the other hand in some cases we can. It’s been alledged that Harry Reid actually held fund raisers in Jack’s offices. That would seem to taint the indirect funds .

It is however interesting that many Democrats (For example Hillary clinton) are actually giving back big chunks of the indirect funds while major Republicans, so far, have not. So maybe there’s a slight moral highground edge to the D’s here.

But the one question that really is bugging me is why Jack did not give to the Democrats? Was it simply because he gave to EVERY republican in a race, so he could not give to their opponent democrats. I doubt that. If Jack’s goal was to curry favor and gain entrances why would he shun democratic donations? It seems like the inescapbale answer is one of the following: either 1) Jack’s personal donations were direct reflections of his political beliefs and not intended primarily as influence 2) The RNC or some major player laid down the law to Jack and told him not to give any to the D’s or 3) The Democrats are all honest (heh).

 
Written By: chuck e
URL: http://
Isn’t the simple conclusion that they (pols) are all assholes playing the majority of us for fools?
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Unknown:

Well, yes, but that’s not new or anything...
 
Written By: Kevin
URL: http://
If you are going to get tarred and feathered by the press and (rightly so) then might as well keep the cash...
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Jon: Is this an appropriate thread for me to repeat my "The Dem/GOP duoply ruled by the Puppetmasters makes our vote a joke" bromide?
There are no puppetmasters necessary to induce this scenario. Public Choice theory predicts it all.
one is that simply getting monies from a client of Abramhoffs is not as bad as it might seem.
I’ll go farther. There’s nothing wrong with getting money from a client or from Abramoff himself. The problem — the only problem in all of this — is quid pro quo. If a politician used their office to do a favor in exchange for that donation...that’ would be the problem. Giving and accepting donations is not intrinsically problematic whether Abramoff was involved or not...except insofar as there’s quid pro quo.

Unfortunately, proving quid pro quo is hard to do.
But the one question that really is bugging me is why Jack did not give to the Democrats?
Well, aside from his own ideological stance putting him in natural contact with more Republicans, there’s also the fact that Republicans are in power. So, really, they had the votes and the access to power—the committee chairmanships, etc—that he really needed.


 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I say kick ’em all out of office and get the new Congress to pass term limits and make it a SERIOUS crime to engage in this kind of activity.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
Since Republicans control the Legislative and Executive branches, it follows that lobbyists are buying Republican.

The Democrats aren’t pure of heart. They just don’t have much to sell.
I’m not neccesarily sure I except the premise here, that being that Democrats would be just as bad were they in power, and that this is nothing more than an example of absolute power corrupting. It is certainly true that this is part of the issue, but I think it is a bit more complicated than that.

The only reason for my dissention on this particular point is that the current corruption of the Republican party seems very deep rooted and even systemic. It would be understandable if the party became so corrupt after a long period of time in undisputed power, however from all accounts the very corruption we are discovering was firmly in place long before Republicans held both the legislature and executive.

I’m not entirely sure that this is business of usual. Keep in mind I am not claiming the innocence of Democrats here, merely that I think the idea that this is simply a natural consequence of Republicans gaining power seems to be a bit of a cop-out and does not neccesarily mesh with reality.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Rosensteel,

Some of use are old enough to remember Abscam.

Jon’s right: had the Dems been in control of the legislature, more money would have been given to the Democrats.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
docjim505: ditto!
 
Written By: Rick D.
URL: http://
Some of use are old enough to remember Abscam.
Yep. And Rosensteel might also want to take at look at the history of Tony Cuelho and his associates.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Make up your minds and let the chips fall where they may.

Okay. Out of 535 representatives and senators, at least 500 are crooked or immoral. That’s on both sides of the aisle, because most of the people drawn to public office have huge egos. Why else do you think the Capitol building is a dome? You need room for all the big heads!

George Will has a good article today, and he points out that in the scramble to replace Tom Delay, Roy Blunt may not be our best option. If you want to make some sort of change, fax a letter to your Congressman (assuming he’s a Republican) telling him to support someone other than Blunt.
 
Written By: Brad Warbiany
URL: http://unrepentantindividual.com
Jon’s right: had the Dems been in control of the legislature, more money would have been given to the Democrats.
Precisely why I suggested yesterday that the issue is not systemic, but rather the problem is power itself.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Kick them all out of office and replace them with Democrats!
 
Written By: Sgt Duran
URL: http://
Kick them all out of office and replace them with Democrats!
 
Written By: Sgt Duran
URL: http://
Kick them all out of office and replace them with Democrats!
The idea that you’re actually serious, here, leaves me speechless.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Power corrupts. The more absolute the power is the more absolute the corruption. Divided government is the answer. Let the dems rat on the republicans and the republicans rat on the dems. Let the special prosecutors go wild. Its the only way to keep any of these guys honest.


Term limits would help too. It takes a while to be sure that you can get away with being corrupt.

 
Written By: cindy
URL: http://
Cindy, you brainless twat. Divided governemnt just means the parties compete to provide the most corruption, err, services to their constituents.

The way to keep them honest as can be is not to ask them for unconstitutional favors, like pension for life supported by the general revenue, aka, Socialist Insecurity.

Compared to that racket, everything Abramoff did wasn’t merely a hill of beans, it was a withered, unsproutable cotyledon.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
The Democrats getting the vapors because they are SHOCKED to find out that lobbiests give gifts and favors to those in power, is just the kind of laugh I needed this early in the year. A little fundraiser at a Buddhist temple come to mind... Or is campaign financing somehow different then "pay for access."

Let’s make it simple.

ALL MONEY OR GIFTS TO POLITICIANS ARE BAD POLICY

So, stop it ALL.

Big question would be how.

But the main thrust is correct, if the politicians didn’t have such sway over where money went, there would not be as much lobbying and the corruption that follows with it.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Big question would be how.
Not so big a question.
Consider it this way:

It’s like a grain silo... birds tend to get attracted to grain silos. Why? The food is there. remove the food, the birds disappear.

The problem is, corruption is attracted to power. People who are are corrupt are seldom attracted to the powerless.

When you have a government that is in control of nearly every aspect of everyday life, you’re going to attract corruption. The degree of corruption you get in government, or anything else, for that matter, is directly connected to the amount of power there. Like the silo, when the power goes away, the corruption goes away, as well.

Reduce the size and scope of the federal government give power back to the states and the people, where it belongs.... Viola’... Less corruption.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
The concept isn’t lost on me...

Applying the concept to the real world is what I am after.

Waving your magic wand isn’t going to reduce the size and scope of the federal government.

For isntance:

Being interested in who gets the leadership spot that DeLay is vacating, and seeing that it goes to those not interested in the status-quo...

Something we can research and probably come to agreement on.

http://instapundit.com/archives/027944.php
Roy Blunt of Missouri, the man who was selected, not elected, to replace DeLay, is a champion of earmarks as a form of constituent service. If, as one member says, "the problem is not just DeLay but ’DeLay Inc.’ " Blunt is not the solution. So far — the field may expand — the choice for majority leader is between Blunt and John Boehner of Ohio. A salient fact: In 15 years in the House, Boehner has never put an earmark in an appropriations or transportation bill.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Book, I call them like I see them, and I don’t run the board, which you have no excuse for not knowing.

You brainless twat.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
In fairness, Cindy got it half right.
Power, does in fact correct. However the answer is not to divide government and make it totally helpless. The answer is to restrict government to its original purposes which do not include direct payments to individuals for example.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Cindy, this is aimed directly at you.

When you have a government that is in control of nearly every aspect of everyday life, you’re going to attract corruption... regardless of who is in power... right, left, center, down the middle, upside down, sideways... doesn’t matter. the answer is not stagnation , but reducing the role of government.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Somebody at QandO owes this woman an administrative apology.

Feel free to apologize for it yourself, Book. The QandO authors aren’t responsible for comments made by outsiders.

Cindy, I’m sure, has put Mr. Perkins into her asshole list and will discount whatever he posts accordingly.

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Just as Cindy and MK are in the "mentally defective" category as far as I’m concerned.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
That’s it Book, keep on speaking for Cindy like the good little anti-semitic patriarch you are.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Cindy, by remaining silent while she is patronized by another brainless liberal twit, confirms the charge. Adams, like most liberals, has arrogated himself the privilege of being the arbiter of who is correct and who is not in this particular case. Cindy obviously cannot cut the mustard here and her miserable efforts have played upon the liberal sensibilities of Adams, causing him to cry out (dare I play the race card?) to the point that any reasonable viewer would be disgusted. We all (including Cindy) know the rules (and the potential penalties for commenting here) or ought to.
I am obviously biased (Cindy being a liberal and all) but if Cindy has added much to the level of discourse here, I missed it. I do, however, admire her fortitude in continuing to comment. Does she deserve to be called a twit? Why not, if the caller sincerely believes that accurately describes the level of her contribution? I think she needs to visit the Neo-neocon website and turn on her brain, but that is just my opinion.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
What strikes me is — three million dollars?

My friends are selling their place. It’s a hundred acres of badly-maintained Texas sidehill, full of weeds and mesquite, with piss-poor fences, only one building (and that a barn, which leaks), and a gigantic power line going across it. A gigundous electric substation sits in the middle of the road frontage.

They expect to get almost a million bucks.

A house in San Francisco with a roof that doesn’t leak and no tenants (because you couldn’t evict them) is worth half to three quarters of a million.

Stand on a freeway bridge at rush hour in any city in the United States. What you see is a couple million dollars’ worth of cars. In each direction.

OK, OK, I’m a poor guy. Ten or twenty thousand bucks would be a huge, huge payment to me. But three million bucks, spread around five or six hundred people? Five thou each? That’s not even enough for a down payment on a new car, and wouldn’t pay the closing costs on a house in a nice neighborhood in DC.

Where the f* are we getting our politicians? Wal*Mart? Family Dollar? Imported from India or China, assembly by LBFMs with clever fingers? It would certainly explain the quality problem...

If you can buy a Senator for fifty thou, why hasn’t somebody started a Blogosphere Challenge? That’s within reach of a fairly determined campaign. What would we do with our toy?

Regards,
Ric
 
Written By: Ric Locke
URL: http://
If you can buy a Senator for fifty thou, why hasn’t somebody started a Blogosphere Challenge?
You may be onto something here, Ric. But if they’re that cheap, why stop at one? Sounds like about 2 1/2 million would buy the whole Democratic Senate caucus.

Besides all the other stuff, we could then tell them to shut up their gasbag droning at the Alito hearings. Heck, that’s probably worth a few hundred thousand right there.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
"Cindy, you brainless twat." Written By: Tom Perkins
Actually, I think it’s a take-off on Dan Akkroyd, but that’s only a guess.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Bithead, I had that in mind yes. Not that I don’t think it’s descriptive. Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Frankly, I agree with Cindy’s comments. Since we can’t count on our elected officials to be honest and police themselves, then we’re stuck with a couple of choices:

1. Don’t let them stay in office long enough to discover all the ways they can fill their pockets (i.e. term limits);

2. Fill them so full of terror of special prosecutors that they won’t dare to do anything that might even APPEAR to be improper;

3. Or, as others have pointed out, start getting back to LIMITED government so that people have fewer reasons to want to bribe our officials. Let’s face it: Abramoff and his kind wouldn’t be passing out payola if it wasn’t in Congress’ power to give what they want.

What’s sad is that a Congressman or Senator practically has to kill somebody to be voted out of office, thanks to all the electoral advantages they’ve voted to give themselves over the years, a fawning media, and an apathetic populace.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
Docjim505 wrote:
Frankly, I agree with Cindy’s comments. Since we can’t count on our elected officials to be honest and police themselves, then we’re stuck with a couple of choices:

1. Don’t let them stay in office long enough to discover all the ways they can fill their pockets (i.e. term limits);
I think lobbyists have their jobs for well over one term, and they can educate the newbs in graft efficiently. This is unlikely to work, then, and can only confirm that good legislators only have one short (generally) shot. A better solution is to ban consecutive terms, that way no one has the benefit of incumbency, but may have the benfit of a good record.
2. Fill them so full of terror of special prosecutors that they won’t dare to do anything that might even APPEAR to be improper;
I think the public likes their pork and exceptions far to well to put with that as anything but a short run fad.
3. Or, as others have pointed out, start getting back to LIMITED government so that people have fewer reasons to want to bribe our officials. Let’s face it: Abramoff and his kind wouldn’t be passing out payola if it wasn’t in Congress’ power to give what they want.
That would actually work—and has been shot down virtually every time it has been attempted. If you know how to make those few successes a general trend, I’m all ears.

Cindy had no new or workable ideas.

Yours, TDP, ml, sml, & pfpp

 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Nice little name calling sausage-fest you guys have going on here.
 
Written By: Timmah420
URL: http://
"Nice little name calling sausage-fest you guys have going on here."

Something has to keep these idiots from saying the same dumb things over and over agian, or nothing will ever get better.

You do want things to get better right? Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Tom Perkins - "I think the public likes their pork and exceptions far to well to put with that as anything but a short run fad."

I don’t know that I entirely agree with this. Personally, I can’t think of a single time when one of my congressmen or senators has brought home some "pork" to North Carolina that made a whit of difference in my life. I think many people would say that same. I’d say that it isn’t "the people" who like pork: it’s special interest / lobby groups who really like it (and are willing to pay to get it).

Tom Perkins - "That would actually work—and has been shot down virtually every time it has been attempted. If you know how to make those few successes a general trend, I’m all ears."

1. Term limits. Your point about non-consecutive terms is very good. No sense throwing the baby out with the bath water. However, I don’t think that there’s any question but that Congress is a career for FAR too many congressmen and senators; this leads to them thinking more about enriching themselves than about their constituents and the country as a whole.

2. Make it unlawful for members of Congress to accept any gift (including "fact-finding" trips) with a value exceeding some modest amount. And when I say "unlawful", I mean UNLAWFUL, as in "you’re going to do some SERIOUS hard time if you get caught".

3. Limit the amount of time that Congress normally sits in session. If they aren’t in DC, they aren’t as likely to cause mischief.

4. Eliminate campaign donation limits. This may sound strange at first, but it seems to me that the labrynthine laws in effect now only encourage cheating. One caveat: ALL CAMPAIGN FINANCE RECORDS MUST BE MADE PUBLIC.

Would these things solve our problems? No, but I think they’d be a step in the right direction.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://

 
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