Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Lobbyist par putrescence Jack Abramoff is scheduled to appear in federal court today to plead guilty to three to five felony counts of fraud, conspiracy, corruption, and tax evasion, as reported in The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.
Abramoff is at the center of several overlapping investigations into congressional corruption, fraud, and other illegal activities related to Abramoff's lobbying business and his purchase of Florida casino company SunCruz. His plea agreement opens the door for Abramoff to cooperate with the federal investigation into corruption by members of Congress.
Abramoff's plea comes on the last possible day set for a deal by the federal judge in Florida presiding over the SunCruz case, and after plea agreements by three men indicted for crimes related to various pieces of the Abramoff case, including former Abramoff partners Michael Scanlon (involved in tribal lobbying schemes) and Adam Kidan (involved in the SunCruz wire fraud).
Reports have mentioned some half a dozen members of Congress who are the focus on the federal investigation into possible corruption and influence peddling, including Reps. Bob Ney (OH), Tom DeLay (TX), and John Doolittle (CA) and Senators Byron Dorgan (ND) and Conrad Burns (MT), among others. Also being investigated are former congressional staffers, many of whom were handed lucrative top-flight lobbying positions after leaving the public payroll, and even congressional spouses, some of whom received cushy contracts from Abramoff involving lots of money and little work.
It's not known whether the subjects of the investigation face any additional risk now that Abramoff has agreed to a deal. However, Abramoff was the spider at the center of the far-reaching and intricate web designed to fatten the wallets of himself and his partners in crime while pushing policies favorable to his clients at the expense of the rest of us. If anyone is in a position to spill the beans, it is Jack.