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Abramoff: A Plague on Both Your Houses?

As the federal investigation into lobbyist Jack Abramoff continues, Republicans are making a push to neutralize the scandal's political reverberations by painting Democrats as equally culpable in taking money from the disgraced influence peddler.

In an interview with Fox News Channel's Brit Hume last night, President Bush called Abramoff an "equal money dispenser," saying the lobbyist was "giving money to people in both political parties."

To supplement that rhetoric, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is circulating a research document to GOP press secretaries this week entitled "Democrats Don't Know Jack???" The memo details the financial connections between Abramoff, the Indian tribes he represented, and Democratic politicians. Meanwhile, Republican blogger Matt Margolis is maintaining a Web site tracking Abramoff's connections to Democrats.

Democrats dismiss these tactics as nothing more than a smokescreen, charging that Abramoff is just "one chapter in a larger pattern of [Republican] corruption" in the words of Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Phil Singer.

The Republican strategy bears a closer look. By the NRSC's count, over the last seven years the three Democratic national party committees have received $1.2 million in contributions that can be tied in some way to Abramoff and his Native American clients.  And 39 of the 44 Democratic senators (plus Independent Sen. Jim Jeffords, who caucuses with Democrats) have taken donations from "Indian tribe clients and lobbying associates of Jack Abramoff."

North Dakota Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan drew considerable press coverage (including in The Post) for his decision this week to return $67,000 in donations he received from individuals and organizations with ties to Abramoff. Dorgan does not have to stand for reelection until 2010.

Brian Nick, a spokesman for the NRSC, said the financial ties between Abramoff and Dorgan and  other Democrats will make it "very, very difficult" for the party to use the lobbyist as a cudgel to bash Republicans in next year's campaign. "It will fall on deaf ears," Nick predicted.

Not so, said Singer, arguing that Republicans' ties to Abramoff will pay off for Democrats when they are put into the context of other GOP scandals -- the indictments of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and former vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby, former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-Calif.) guilty plea in a bribery scandal, and the Securities and Exchange Commission's investigation into a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).  Taken together, Singer said, the corruption issue will reach critical mass in the minds of voters.

(It is worth noting that Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson is currently under federal investigation for his relationship with the vice president of Nigeria.)

"People wake up each morning and see two words next to each other with some regularity 'indictment' and 'Republican'," Singer said. "That's what people remember."

Democrats have already used Abramoff to attack Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) -- a major target in 2006. Two ads sponsored by the DSCC have run in the state hitting Burns for his ties to Abramoff and more commercials on that theme are surely on the way.

Having control of the White House and Congress also complicates the Republican argument, said Singer.  He said that when the House bank scandal broke in the early 1990s -- a major factor in the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 -- many GOP Members were implicated in the controversy, but Democrats bore the brunt of the blame at the ballot box because they were the party in power.

Since the investigation into Abramoff (and his ties to various members of Congress) seems unlikely to wrap up any time soon, how effective the Republican efforts to paint Democrats as equally culpable in the current scandal climate is likely to be a major factor in determining which party gains the most in next year's midterm elections.

UPDATE, 11:45 a.m. ET: Earlier this week, The Post ran a graphic that traced the flow of money to Abramoff and on to lawmakers.  The main graphic is here:  "How Abramoff Spread the Wealth."  A smaller piece of the graphic is here:  "Who Is Team Abramoff?"

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 15, 2005; 9:06 AM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party , Republican Party  
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Hi! Very interesting! pfjtn

Posted by: John S | August 19, 2006 8:03 PM | Report abuse

NH Repblicans convicted of dirty tricks:

Despite the convictions and punishments, the Republicans still got what they wanted: Republicans elected Governor, Senator, and to Sen. Sununu's old House seat. Would Jeb Bradley and John Sununu have been elected without these dirty tricks, or do their seats rightfully belong to Martha Fuller Clark and Jeanne Shaheen?

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 17, 2005 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Could it be I'm being redirected as having hit too close to the mark? What the hell is going on? is this a Democracy or a media controlling attempt? What a brave man that Chris is, not to mention the Washington Post for supporting his efforts at hiding information. Can the rest of the world see these posts or do you redirect your noisiest opponents to the oblivion of talking to themselves? What a pansy, what a wuss, what a fearless foof. How did you get the job, did it involve favors or are you an operative that gets two paychecks?


Posted by: Interesting....I can't find the rest of the articles I posted about | December 17, 2005 1:14 PM | Report abuse


I am doing a report on modern day journalism. How do you spell hack?

Again, it is fun watching the slow, painful suicide of contemporary journalism. Dead on the phony altar of 'Fair and Balanced' fakeness.

How does it feel to live in fear of offending George W. Bush or his media mainpulator Karl Rove?

Maybe you can bring up Chappaquiddick to be 'fair and balanced'.

Again, the reason why I will never buy this newspaper again.


Posted by: Granite State Destroyer | December 17, 2005 1:25 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes there aren't two sides to a story. Were the jewish shopkeepers guily
of littering during Kristallnacht?

Posted by: shooter | December 15, 2005 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Wow... this is absolutely surreal. It must be the new WaPo policy to fulfill the worst expectations of tinfoil hat wearers.

Excuse me but didn't we see exact same sort of "shape of the earth: views differ" lunacy just a little while ago on this very page? But oh, ha-ha, it was just some anonymous editor. An anomaly. No harm no foul.


Posted by: radish | December 15, 2005 7:24 PM | Report abuse

It's blogging like this that explains why Cillizza is thought of so well by John Harris.

Maybe one of the White House reporters can check to see if Mr. Bush could use a bit more polish to his shoes.

This is the Post's journalistic equivalent.

Posted by: scootmandubious | December 15, 2005 7:18 PM | Report abuse

It's blogging like this that explains why Cillizza is thought of so well by John Harris.

Maybe one of the White House reporters can check to see if Mr. Bush could use a bit more polish to his shoes.
This is the Post's journalistic equivalent.

Posted by: scootmandubious | December 15, 2005 7:17 PM | Report abuse

>>>Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | Dec 15, 2005 2:59:35 PM

I love it when cowards post with my name. That's the 2nd time.

Why'd you CUT AND RUN, ya coward?

Just shows that the GOP has nary a leg to stand on. But thanks for driving home my arguments with your inarticulate whining.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | December 15, 2005 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"The Republican strategy bears a closer look."

But apparently the truth doesn't.

Posted by: Billmon | December 15, 2005 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Check out the Hotline on Call at They report that Jackie Boy has written over 200K in checks to Republicans since '92. How much money has he given to D's?? 0$!! The money that was going to Democrats was from his clients, as any lobbiest with half a brain would tell the groups they represent to give money to both parties.

Posted by: JP | December 15, 2005 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Um, I moved to Canada, and there are no moonbats here. We do have the Prime Minister proposing a total handgun ban and doubling child care funding (to many times per capita what the US spends), lower taxes than the US, budget surpluses paying down the national debt (the new definition of liberal?), a nation at peace and free from the fear of terrorism and America's Patriot Act police state, universal health insurance like every other industrialized nation, gay marriage, legal prostitution and medical marijuana (with non-medical pending decriminalization), unemployment at a 31 year low, the Loonie trading at 87 cents US and rising to its highest levels in 15 it liberal if you want, call it conservative--I call it better and far more pleasant and common sensical tha Bush's America.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 15, 2005 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I think all of us need to take a deep breath and untie the knots we have created in our panties. We all know that no sane person really cares about our useless drivel. I think we should all take the next step towards moonbat liberalism and move to Canada.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | December 15, 2005 2:59 PM | Report abuse

This blog is usually great, but this ridiculous creating balance when there is none is getting out of hand. I'm with the other people, send the ombudsman a note.

Posted by: Different Steve | December 15, 2005 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I guess in Chris' World, "fair and balanced" means that points of view that are based on truth and facts must be balanced against POVs that are equal parts of lies and distortion. Accounts of obscene, pervasive corruption on one side must be balanced against an equal number of inflated, trivial misdeeds from the other side. A hand in the cookie jar is perceived just as naughty as wolfing down the contents of the entire pantry. Fair and balanced, indeed.

Posted by: Steve | December 15, 2005 2:17 PM | Report abuse

When will the editors get it? With the advent of the internet people do a lot more reading from all over- not just one sourse so that you can no longer write articles that are less than truthful about the subject you are writing about. When you introduce the democrats as being just as guilty you fool no one. We've read too many articles now about Abramoff, Scanlon, Cunningham, Ney, DeLay, Kidan, several senators wives, and many others to know that it is a wide spread republican scandal and to sell it as anything else is mearly trying to spin the administrations talking points to try to distance themselves from the ax that will evenually fall and take many of them down.

Posted by: Helen P. from Pennsylvania | December 15, 2005 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Call it as it is - the Washington Faux Post.

Posted by: Joana | December 15, 2005 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Here's the best overview of the Abramoff story, unbiased and categorized; You need to refer to links like this one, Chris, not those phony "Blogs for Bush" if you want bloggers to respect your blog.


Posted by: John Patterson | December 15, 2005 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Wow -- this really gives the impression that Abramoff and the Indian tribes were giving Democrats at least as much as Republicans got, which is total baloney. Why is the Washington Post so worried about telling the truth regarding the culture of corruption in the Republican Party? Because it will look biased? There is no bias in telling the truth, which is that the Republicans on the whole have acted far sleazier than the Democrats over the past decade.

Posted by: Jefferson Peck | December 15, 2005 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Chris, if you want to earn credibility on the Blogosphere, don't ever agian refer to websites like the Blogs for Bush GI dating service (see the ads on the Margollis site), it is not really a blog, it is an administrated chatroom.

If you try to post, you get a message that your post is waiting for an administrator to approve. If it is such an important blog, to merit your reference, why wasn't there a single comment posted on it? Even my gramma's recipe blog gets a few comments.

These fake blogs are totally unreliable.If you can't see a post the moment you make it, you can never get the spontaneous exchange that makes a blog a blog.

All the Blogs for Bush are afraid of the truth, or they would be open Like Harry Reid's or John Conyer's blogs.

Putting the Democrats on the same page with Republicans in this scandal is just more of comparing cranberries to apples. It doesn't make your cranberries look any bigger.


Posted by: John Patterson | December 15, 2005 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I would say this,
Make a chart and list the evil do'ers;

Carl Rove
Chaney and Oil companies writing Energy Policy

Rumsfelf Tenet Chaney War WMD;not found

Abramoff Reed Chaney (politcal assistance)

White House, Office Budget Mgt. David Safavian, indicted,

Susan Ralston worked for Reed, Abramoff, now works for Chaney (White House staff)

T Delay, M Scanlon, Abramoff, K Street Lobbist adventures

Abramoff, Delay Scotland Golf

Delay TRMPAC Texas gerrymandering

Senator Steven, R Alaska, Bridges, Oil Company Executives testifing not under Oath.

Senator Stevens, R Alaska, paint a plane for fish industry, federal money....

Senator Larry Craig, Idaho, Northwest HydroPower Asso., kill funding "Fish Passage Center" due to false science/data cloaked in advocacy...

Republican Ill. Gov.George Ryan, guilty, $3m inside contracts...

Abramoff, Grover Norquist (Am Tax Reform) Reed, Indian Money($82M), money laundering, Grover taking 10-15% for his efforts off top...

T/R Tom Delay / MO/R Senator Roy Blount sending money "laundering" between their "charities"

Tom Delay and Republican National Committe sending money back and forth for Texas redisting gerrymandering operations, under investigation, these activities...

MO/R Senator Blount has Delays Majority Whip position, will he give it Back? Na!

Abramoff, Signature Restarant - free feeders (both groups)

Tx Sen John Croynon, Reed, Abramoff, Tigua Indians massacre (financial)

Abramoff, Ohio Senator Ney-Senate Record, Kidan Cruise ships

Tim Flannigan, Tyco, Abramoff, Carl Rove business favors with Mark Swartz/Dennis Kowlowski

Rove, Valrie Plame, CIA, Judith Miller outing agents

Abramoff, Kidan, Boulius, Murder, Mail fraud, FBI, Post Office Investigations...

White House, Republican Senators, Jeb, all regilious activist, hounding Michael Schevio and his brain dead wife...

Abramoff, phony Capital Atheltic Foundation

Ralph Reed, "Common Cause" against gambling

Ralph Reed, "China Minstries" started for US corporations paying for votes for pro China policy.

Law offices Greenberg/Taurg... in assocation with Abramoff...

Georgia republican senate, photo ID requirement, 168 counties 54 offices, none in Fulton county, most populace county.

Brownie, FEMA political appointees by Bush, all failures in time of need...

Sorrrrrieee, I getting tired and there is so much more to list
Somebody help with the Democtate info.


Posted by: Michael Allen | December 15, 2005 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I agree with everyone else on this thread who says that this blog belongs in the Opinions section.

Posted by: J. Crozier | December 15, 2005 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The problem in media today is incomplete reporting. The goal is A STORY - not THE STORY.

The complete story would paint the house and senate as generally tied to contributor cash...and that the white collar corporate donors are looking to buy advantage.

The COMPLETE story would show that Republicans truck with "respectable" white collar criminals who happen to be in major corporate or affluent organizations, and that Democrats don't have anywhere near the access to these relationships.

Apparently these otherwise lawful citizens don't have a problem breaking laws that protect equality in representation where money is involved.

Ken Lay goes to church, and Abrahmhoff is a conservative jew.

Posted by: Incomplete Reporting | December 15, 2005 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Numbers, KJ, numbers.

Get on the horn people or drop a quick email.

Wahington Post Ombudsman
Deborah Howell

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | December 15, 2005 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Nice try at the "Everyone does it anyway!" excuse we get from the Republican slime machine. Perhaps you don't read the Washington Post yourself that explicitely shows Republicans were the overwhelming benefactor of this rip off? I think I will have to let the Ombudsman in on this biased piece, that is if she has time after trashing Froomkin.

Posted by: Monica | December 15, 2005 11:37 AM | Report abuse

PS; This Bush Cult believes their party matters more than their country.


Posted by: John Patterson | December 15, 2005 11:37 AM | Report abuse

It will take more slanted journalism than this to keep the heat off the Republicans. There are lots of shoes left to drop on this scandal centipede, and they have Republican names writ large upon their soles.

If you want to know the real story of how Republicans dominate this scandal, just ask any former K-Street Democrat when and how and why Abramoff got so much power and influence in the first place.

The names of Delay, Cheney and Rove figure prominently in this cuticle tale, and it is the very origin of all the rest of the intrigue we have seen from this shadowy administration.

You might call it "The K-Street Keystone" as a headline for your story.

You will have a hard time finding a Democrat on K-Street any more, they were purged by Cheney, Rove and Delay in favor of party accomplices like Abramoff.

That is how it all started, and once they had established their imaginary monopoly, they got so hubrissed up and rolling in easy-access money, they forgot how to be careful and subtle.

The Democrats were the victims in the K Street purge, and you can't blame those who have been purged for the actions of the purgers. Chris, you are trying very hard to make this mistake, as are many of your fellow pundits. Sad to see it happen, but your editors must take some reposnsibility for it I am sure.

Tinme will prove that the really sleazy Republicans are alone in this one, and the only way to they can deal with the problem, since they are pathologic liars in the first place, is to point to the few unwitting Democrats that Abramoff snared in his web.

I would guess this is exactly why the easy money got spread around to as many politicians as possible, so that if the plan fell apart, there would be someone to point a guilty finger at.

When this investigation finally gets around to the Purge on K-Street, which is where it will finally find resolution, the floodgates of shame will open, primarily on the Republican party, and there will be no way on Earth they can defer the guilt to anyone else.

The story is so lopsided there is simply nothing left but the obvious truth.

Because at the core of that purge is the proof of this patent Republican deception. I doubt if even the more honorable men and women of the Republican Party will be able to stop the hemorrhaging. But that is what you get when you enable and honor scoundrels in the name of patriotism.

No matter how much the pundits lean away from it, this Truth is hanging like another Sword of Damacles over the Republican Party, by a very thin hair.

All the slanted journalism in the world can't keep it from breaking.

No one will anyone be able make it fall on the Democrats. They were purged out from under that sword by the very GOP powermongers who now fear it is falling on their own pointy little heads...

The key to the Truth is K Street.

Do that story, zealously, and you will be on track to expose the whole writhing nest of GOP vipers who are really to blame.


Posted by: Anonymous | December 15, 2005 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I appreciate getting information on the scope of Abramoff-related contributions to Democrats.
Is there an estimate for the contributions to Republicans?

Posted by: schlicht | December 15, 2005 11:35 AM | Report abuse

FairAndBalanced? - you're not going to get much out of the Ombudsman, Deborah Howell, as she is currently too busy trashing Dan Froomkin for posting links in his column that she has deemed too "liberal" and not "balanced." Sigh.

Posted by: KJ | December 15, 2005 11:14 AM | Report abuse

If a restaurant is being used to launder money, getting a list of who's eaten at that restaurant in the last two years tells you a bit, but not much.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 15, 2005 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Abramoff was embedded deep within the Republican party-- a super close pal of Delay, Norquist, et al. Maybe there's a Dem or two with dirty hands, but Abramoff was a huge mover for Republicans. Maybe he was just a bad apple, but he was definitely a GOP guy.

Mr. Cilizza, what percentage of his money went to each party? What does William Jefferson have to do with this? Strive for objectivity, not balance-- defend the existence of truth!

Posted by: no, _you're_ corpusculent! | December 15, 2005 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Heh. Never mind. I guess two consecutive angle brackets truncates posts...

"First, ask yourself, if there was so much money spread around in both parties, why is it that of all the staffers and members of Congress either under indictment or under investigation, every single one seems to be a Republican?

Liberal bias in the Gonzales Justice Department? Probably not."

The read is well worth the jump...

Posted by: Ian Coleman | December 15, 2005 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Josh Marshall breaks this down in typical fashion. Bear with me for the long quote (sorry).

Posted by: Ian Coleman | December 15, 2005 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Boy, this is a lame attempt to take what is clearly a Republican problem and spread the blame around...Nice try.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 15, 2005 10:25 AM | Report abuse

There's nothing wrong with Chris reporting on the GOP's actual effort to tie Democrats to the Abramoff thing. This is not bias. Also remember that the only people reading this are political junkies who aren't going to be making up their minds about candidates or parties based on what he writes. This is all inside baseball.

That said, the GOP's effort so far is a flop and doesn't really have any potential to get them anywhere. The problem with the Abramoff thing was not the fact that he was funneling donations. Everybody does that. The problem is that Republicans were deliberately exchanging official acts for those donations in a massive, organized way. Accepting a campaign donation is not in it's self corruption. Look at all of the people who are under indictment or investigations in connection to the Abramoff scandal. They're all Republicans.

William Jefferson is not a particularly effective response either. Nobody has even alleged that Jefferson was not alone in his actions. He's isolated, wheras all of the Republican scandals connect back and forth with each other in a nexus that prosecutors add up to conspiracy and that any reasonable person can call organized crime. Co-conspirator #1 in the Cunningham case has been subpoenaed in the Tom Delay money laundering case; Tom Delay is also close to indictment for corruption in the Abramoff scandal, which is also apparantly reaching into the Senate to sink Sen. Conrad Burns - as if Bill Frist didn't already have enough problems with his insider trading investigation from the DoJ. Jefferson is one bad guy on his own while the entire leadership of the GOP has turned into the Sopranos - complete with a murder investigation and a hitman who worked for the Gambino crime family.

This isn't going to work for the GOP. It could if it was only a battle of spin. The problem is that there are actual prosecutors involved who really don't care what the excuse or spin of the week is. The GOP can spout talking points and then a week later another one of their guys gets indicted or subpoenaed or found guilty. After 5 years or spouting total BS, cold hard facts are finally slapping them across the face in the form of prosecution. They can't spin their way out of this. Only time, soul-searching and major reforms at all levels of the party will get the GOP out of this hole.

Posted by: Jackson Landers | December 15, 2005 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Yeah Froomkin's biased but this guy's not.

Give me a break.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 15, 2005 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Look, the nation was founded on getting out from under one george....maybe we're supporting the wrong george, is there a sensible one around here someplace?

Posted by: Yo is this the truth? being an american actually means standing up for your country, not your leader | December 15, 2005 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Once again fair and balanced leads to indicating the one democrat under investigation in a sea of Republican slime and scum.

When the Bush's first plundered the Treasury during the S&L scandal, there were deomcrats involved also. The next incarnation of Bush thievery was the BCCI fiasco in which the head thief of BCCI paid off Democrats almost exclusively. Why? Well, first off, they were in power, but the underlying reason IMHO was so that the democrats could be neutralized when the thing fell apart.

Look at the Keating 5, they got democrats in that sweep also. Does this mean that both parties do it all the time? Well, yes it does, but almost invariably when there is a GOP administration indictments, and many of them, and scandals, and many of the ensure. And the follow up to the indictments is the plundering of our money.

Ruch and his chorus of blowhards like to talk about "our" money as they watch it being carried out of the Treasury in shopping bags and sent off to Cayman Island acounts or to brand new exclusive properties on the eastern shore of Maryland, as in the case of Rumsfeld and Cheney.

Give us a break, please. Start talking about real malfeasance. Mention the non-stop plundering of the Treasury since this criminal cabal has been in power, mention the amount of drugs that are entering this country with the help of the CIA and the Bush family. These people are the antithesis of god government and of everything that we once held sacred.

Start acting like a reporter and get off your knees, wipe the stuff from around your mouth, and do your friggin job.

Posted by: matt | December 15, 2005 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Omg. Chris, you are just the worst. Time to put in another call to the ombudswoman:

The Post's Ombudsman, Deborah Howell, is the readers' representative within the newspaper. E-mail her at or call 202-334-7582.

Message: Completely biased non-reporting like this belongs on the Opinion Page with idiots like George Will and Dick Cohen.

* Why no mention of Ralph Reed?
* Why no mention of Grover "Drown the govt in the Bathtub" Norquist?
* Why no mention of Adam Kidan, his partner in crime that lead to a mafia slaying of the former owner of SunCruise Casino Boats?
* Why no mention of Michael Scanlon?
* Why no mention of the WaPos own coverage of the Abramoff scandal?

* Why no mention of the money he gave to Bush?

* Why no mention of the Sweatshops that Abramoff and DeLay ran in the Marianas, or the fact that the Gov-Elect of the North Marianas Islands "has agreed to cooperate with federal authorities in the ongoing investigation of Rep. Tom Delay and former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whom he once described as his 'close friends.'"

* Why no mention of Abramoff's meetings with Conrad Burns (who REFUSES to return the dirty money) -----

* What in the HELL does William Jefferson have ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS?

This is bullsh*t and everyone here knows it. Help me out people, anyone who agrees with me, please email or call the ombudsman Deborah Howell.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | December 15, 2005 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Did your editor force you to put the one democrat under investigation in there for balance? Has does that tie into a story?

Posted by: Indianapolis, IN | December 15, 2005 9:41 AM | Report abuse

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