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Abramoff: GOP Strategists Urge "Real" Ethics Package

A number of high-level Republican strategists have been quietly urging their party's congressional leaders to pass a "real ethics package" (in the words of one advocate) to counteract the potential negative political effects of the ongoing scandal surrounding disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose name is once again dominating the news after he agreed to a plea deal earlier today.

The ethics lobbying effort has been in progress for the past several months, but so far GOP leaders in Congress have resisted it, according to one knowledgeable Republican source.  It remains unclear whether the Abramoff's agreement to aide prosecutors' probe of congressional influence peddling will prompt the leadership to reconsider.

A complicating factor for congressional Republicans as they contemplate how to deal with the fallout from the Abramoff scandal is the fact that the House is not set to reconvene until the end of this month, meaning members would need to be called back early if GOP leaders want to pass some sort of ethics measure quickly.

One Republican lobbyist, who ask that his name be withheld due to the sensitive nature of the issue within the party, made two potential arguments for what comes next. The first is that an Abramoff plea "makes [the Abramoff impact] better because it avoids a trial - and means it will end sooner." Argument two, which the lobbyist said "is a little stronger," is that Abramoff's cooperation with prosecutors "makes it worse because it means we are about to have members of Congress and staff indicted."

For their part, congressional Democrats are trying to lay low and not turn the Abramoff mess into a partisan football. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put out a release Monday featuring two quotes from former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas.). One is from a 1995 speech in which DeLay said: "The time has come that the American people know exactly what their Representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special interest groups?"

Editor's Note: The Fix's Chris Cillizza was interviewed by News Channel 8 about the Abramoff scandal. Click below to watch:

News Channel 8 Video; washingtonpost.com editor: Jacqueline Refo

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 3, 2006; 2:55 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Next: Parsing the Polls: The Public's Take on Congressional Corruption

Comments

The Republican Party has brainwashed their followers that no matter how corrupt or how stupid they are their sheep will still follow them.
To them the Democrats are stupid, without ideas and silent. One only has to watch C-Span or read more than one paper,
As long as there are nasty writers who use blogs to push their ugly words and views the Republicans will drive our country further down the drain.
All one has to do is listen to the difference in language by the two Parties and you will see which one is the most intelligent and civilized.
Why would anyone vote for LYNN SWANN, he is just an ex football player who hails from California. The Republicans are so desperate that they want Guiliani, Gringich, Schwartzenegger and all those two timers to run for President.
Why is it o.k. for guys who mistreat women to be President just because they are Republican? I don't think half of the voters who vote in the Republican Party are playing with a full deck.

Posted by: MAS | January 7, 2006 5:23 PM | Report abuse

The politicians implicated in the Abramoff play to pay schemes should be forced to resign immediately beginning with DeLay, Hastert and Reid. The U.S. government needs to be revamped, not only with the implementation of ethical practices but with new representatives.While this is a Republican scandal the Democrats involved should not be spared. The resignations should begin immediately. The U.S. government under Bush has become an incompetent, shameful and corrupt fiasco.

Posted by: Bill Graburn | January 5, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

House Republicans will lose 52 seats before they pass anything resembling a "real ethics package".

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | January 4, 2006 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Crazy - if the President's saying he thinks DeLay is innocent... that must be because he is...

"You're doin' a heckuva job, Brownie."

Posted by: Lou | January 4, 2006 4:51 PM | Report abuse

CRAZY POLITICO...THE KLAN MEETING IS AT 9 P.M. NOT 11....SORRY BOUT THAT....
GO REPUBLICANS!
LYNCH...I MEAN VOTE FOR LYNN SWANN

Posted by: http://therelaiblesource.blogspot.com/ | January 4, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

ETHICS HAS NO PLACE IN POLTICS. NEITHER DO POOR PEOPLE AND MINORITIES...UNLESS YOU'RE A RICH MINORITY. WHAT'S ALL THIS WE SHOULD PLAY FAIR CRAP ABOUT. JACK IS A PLAYER IN THE MOST TUMULTUOS GAME THEIR IS. DELAY, BUSH, MY MAN FROM MONTANA, THEY'RE ALL PLAYERS. WE AS THE MIDDLE AND SUB MIDDLE CLASS SHOULD SHUT UP AND LET THESE PEOPLE DO THEIR THING. RICH MEN HAVE BEEN BUYING THEIR POLITICAL, ECONOMICAL, AND SOCIAL POSITION SINCE SLAVERY, AND JACK THE LOBBYIST SHOULD THAT RICH WHITE MEN ARE STILL ON COURSE. GREED AND COMPLACENCY AND JACK BEING JEWISH DIDN'T HELP. NO WASPS AND THE CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS NEED TO RUN OUR COUNTRY. THEY HAVE SO MUCH COMPASSION FOR THE NEGROES AND MEXICANS OF THE WORLD. SO MUCH COMPASSION I SAY. LIBERALS NEED TO QUIT THEIR YAPPING ABOUT CIVIL LIBERITES, WIRE TAPS, AND THE PATRIOT ACT....DON'T YOUR SISSY'S KNOW THAT WE'RE UNDER ATTACK.....I MEAN SERIOUSLY, WE'RE UNDER ATTACK....NO LIKE RIGHT NOW AS WE SPEAK WE'RE UNDER ATTACK!
NO PUNISHMENT TO THE REPUBLICANS!!!!!!!

Posted by: http://therelaiblesource.blogspot.com/ | January 4, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Americans realize corruption exists in government -- they just do not know the depth of it, yet. With the numerous indictments to come and the ones already handed out it is astonishing the GOP is not interested in putting together an ethics package. However should they change their minds it would be unwise if merely rhetorical.

ImpeachBushNow is correct, the Democrats have been shut out of writing policy. They will do anything to keep dems from making progress on any level. Delay threatens withdrawing his support for legislation of interest to lobbyists and CEO's if they hire democrats. They don't call him the hammer for nothing. The GOP goes to the extent of blocking legislation written by Democrats even if that means shelving workable and sound policies. I wonder how the public would feel if they knew playing party politics trumped sound policy.

If the GOP actually put together a strong, enforceable ethics package that would hold legislators accountable, address the lack of transparency, etc. it would discourage fraud, corruption etc. not to mention it would go a long way with the public. The longer they refuse the less popular they become.

Insofar as Bush -- he broke the law. FISA explicitly states it is a criminal offense to eavesdrop without complying to its mandates. FISA was designed for expediency and simultaneously protect American citizens' civil rights, not hobble US intelligence-gathering. It created a balance between civil liberties and national security. Claiming national security has been put at risk is a red herring.

Posted by: serena1313 | January 4, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Crazy,
That poll doesn't describe what the president did, it asks should the NSA be allowed to spy on terrorists in the US. Sure I agree with that too. But the President should get a FISA warrant...he has 72 hrs AFTER the fact to do so. In the 30 plus years of FISA only 5 warrants have been declined--FIVE--out of tens of thousands of FISA warrants.

So why does Bush need to avoid FISA? If he had a real, honest answer for this, I am willing to listen. Instead, we hear the same talking points from trolls like you and the WH.

Posted by: DaveB | January 4, 2006 2:07 PM | Report abuse

WE could use an Ethics committee...Oh we have an Ethics committee...Could sommeone please wake them up...Oh we could use laws on Campaign Finance reform...Oh we do have laws on pn CFR but everytime we wrote those laws an Army of lawyers come outof the woodwork to find ways around the laws. I think we have bigger problems then Abramoff

Posted by: Roger | January 4, 2006 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Its easy to say screw the lot of em and "trow dah bums out". So to hell with it. Too many of them are dirty. "Trow dah bums out". The Constitution is being trampled and our Republic is at risk.

Posted by: jimmy j. | January 3, 2006 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Mary, if the President's saying he thinks DeLay is innocent make the trial unncessary that must be because he is, so no need to boot him. :) And I agree with you on ethics, both sides have folks who are going to be shown to be dirty, and all of them need to get washed.

ImpeachBushNow... Not working with the other side is called Business As Usual in DC. Take a look at the 30 years the Democrats controlled congress, and you'll see that. I'm not saying it's right, I'm saying it's how both sides have worked in the Capital for decades.

As far as impeachment over the NSA thing, I think it would make the Democratic party a permanent, and even smaller, minority party.

Only 23% of the folks Rassmussen polled felt the NSA was wrong, 64% felt it was right. So basically, while the impeachment would appeal to the hard core of the Democratic Party, it would also be seen by a large majority of the country (and 51% of democrats) as the wrong thing to do.

Doesn't sound like the way to win new voters.

Posted by: Crazy Politico | January 3, 2006 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I'll admit SOME Democrats offered reform legislation, but where is the leadership? Legislation offered in secret doesn't exactly make news outside the beltway. Why aren't they making a big deal of this if they're behind it? Why haven't they been holding a news conference on it every week?

And for those Republicans hoping this is a bipartisan scandal - forget it. The simple fact is the Democrats had nothing to sell characters like Abramoff. The lockstep Republican causcus has given its leadership a stranglehold on everything happening in Congress for five years. Any payoffs to Dems were for nothing more than keeping quiet (see paragraph above).

Posted by: Russ | January 3, 2006 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Crazy,
DeLay doesn't need a trial(s), our President already said he is innocent. I mentioned his legal wrangle with regard to the House schedule, and the reason for it. And, of course, if Reid, is dirty he should go, too. The issue is ethical behavior, or the lack of it, and neither party has a lock on that.

Posted by: Mary | January 3, 2006 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Big Difference in Dem and GOP donations. It ia not illEGAL to accept a political donation as long as it does not affect legisilation. It is however illegal to accept a bribe, solicit campaign donations in exchange for favorable legislation. It is illegal to accept donations of travel, gifts etc. It is illegal to accept donations with a wink and nod that you will sponsor, support, or even propose legisilation on behalf of a lobbyists effort.

Everything I see and read indicates that DEMS have been shut out of writing legislation in both the house and senate. Dems are not guilty for accepting the donation unless they did something to affect the outcome of legislation that was favorable to the lobbyists. The GOP controls the legislstive agenda. They steadfastly refused to work wiith DEMS on any legislation. SO you live by the sword you die by the sword. Impeach all the neo cons corrupt thuglicans. Pelosi is correct,. the GOP has created a "culture of corruption". I will very suprised that Dems will be indicated from Abramoff. Not that they are above doing something, rather they have been shut out of making legislation that made it impossible to deliver "the goods" for any lobbyist.

Posted by: ImpeachBushNow | January 3, 2006 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Mary, would you like DeLay convincted first, or is a trial not necessary for him? If it isn't, since Harry Reid took over $60,000 from Abramoff, he should be booted also, correct?

Fair - Read the June Article I linked, and read the transcript of today's press conference, as much as certain folks would like this to only involve the GOP, it doesn't.

http://crazypolitics.blogspot.com

Posted by: Crazy Politico | January 3, 2006 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Russ, check out "Time for a House-Cleaning" WaPo 12/8/05 for more on Adam's comment.

And speaking of House ethics, here's what I want to know. Dennis Hastert scheduled the first House session of 2006 for Jan. 31, presumably to give Tom DeLay more time to resolve his legal problems in Texas, thereby avoiding a leadership battle in his absense. But, they only have until Feb. 3 to debate passage of the Patriot Act, so what does that do Hastert's strategy? If they have to reconvene early, their first order of business should be to boot DeLay. That would jump-start any clean up program, IMHO.

Posted by: Mary | January 3, 2006 7:04 PM | Report abuse

CP: "I think the Democrats might want to lay low on this for a while"
You wish! :):):)

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | January 3, 2006 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Russ said:
"...isn't it pathetic that the DEMOCRATS haven't come up with a reform package?"

They have Russ. Actually they came up with it a month ago. I saw it on C-SPAN today. 14 things to clean up the house and make it democratic (small d) again.

Chris, you might check it out too (Obey, Frank, and Price were in the lead on this), it'd be nice to mention it so the conventional wisdom of Russ doesn't get played out in the Post.

Remember, even though (and especially) since Democrats are proposing an ethics package, it is extremely unlikely that the republicans will ever allow it to come to the floor for a vote.

Posted by: Adam Terando | January 3, 2006 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Considering Abramoff was paying Daschle, Reid, and Gephardt also, I think the Democrats might want to lay low on this for a while.

Guys like him seldom play one side of the field, because if the party they play with goes out of power they are out of business.
The post had a partial list in June of the Democrats getting money from Jack:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/02/AR2005060202158.html%20target=%22_blank%22

More At:
http://crazypolitics.blogspot.com/2006/01/abramoff-could-burn-many.html

Posted by: Crazy Politico | January 3, 2006 6:33 PM | Report abuse

While of course this is politics as usual and will not stanch the scandal tsunami about to overtake Congressional Republicans, isn't it pathetic that the DEMOCRATS haven't come up with a reform package?

Posted by: Russ | January 3, 2006 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I took my laughter offline and now I just want to throw up. There's only so much laughter a person can take!
That seems to be the trend lately; let NSA monitor itself, let the police investigate police brutality, let the President decide when he has broken a law, let the congress investigate it's own misdeeds and everybody comes up squeaky clean. Surprise!

Posted by: solitaire | January 3, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I think it's interesting that this scandal may involve 20 lawmakers(and staff). I assuming that this is spread out over the House and Senate, which doesn't make it so stark, but still.....20? Is corruption truly that entrenched?

I believe so.

Posted by: James | January 3, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Republicans passing an Ethics guideline is a RIOT!!!! hA HA HA HA HA AHA HA AHA AHhh
ahem.
Hahahahah.

Posted by: solitaire | January 3, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The GOP can pass whatever legislation they want, but this multi-faceted scandal is THE symbol of Republican coruption and it will not go away. Of course, I'll be the first to say that if any Dems broke the law, they should go down too, but this is clearly clearly a GOP issue.

I have no pity whatsoever for anyone caught in this web b/c the kind of influence-peddling and "lobbying" that goes on behind closed doors in Washington D.C. is an enormous threat to our democracy. It is almost as big a threat as Bush's devaluing of the constitution and our civil liberties.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | January 3, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

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