Thursday, February 09, 2006
Top Democrat's Links To Jack Abramoff
Tribes gave to Reid after hiring Abramoff
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada began receiving campaign contributions from at least four American Indian tribes only after they hired Jack Abramoff, Republicans charged this week in an effort to tie the Senate Democratic leader to the disgraced lobbyist.
On Thursday, Reid shrugged off questions about money he received from tribal clients of Abramoff, who pleaded guilty last month to three felonies after being accused of exchanging meals, travel and gifts for political favors.
"I've said that I received money from Indians in the past and will continue to do so," Reid said.
Asked what he would say about tribes who did not give him money until after hiring Abramoff, Reid said, "What I've said all along."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee this week revived a charge that Reid received more than $50,000 from four tribes with gaming interests between 2001 and 2004 after they hired Abramoff. The Nevadan had received no money from those tribes before then, Republicans said.
The donations included:
• $19,500 from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of California.
• $5,000 from the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana.
• $7,000 from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
• $19,000 from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan.
"Harry Reid's ties to Jack Abramoff are too substantial for him to dismiss with Washington, D.C., denial and hypocritical accusations," Republican spokesman Tucker Bounds said.
Reid has acknowledged receiving $61,000 from tribal clients and lobbying colleagues of Abramoff. He has said the money was legally raised, that he has done nothing improper and does not plan to refund the donations.
So, I'd guess that if I were to recieve a nickel for every Democrat that will call for Harry Reid to "step down" over his "immoral" connections to Jack Abramoff I would have... well, nothing most likely.
Here we will be awash in the hypocrisy of the Democrats. They won't call for Reid's head on a platter over these donations like they would if it were a Republican who had gotten such huge amounts of cash "tainted" with Jack Abramoff's fingerprints donated to his campaigns.
But, and here is the rub, I don't believe that anyone should call for Reid's resignation over this issue. I don't see a thing wrong with his receiving these donations. For that matter, there isn't even anything wrong with lobbying itself. Both the donations and lobbying itself is perfectly leagal. In fact, lobbying is written about as "competing factions" as far back as the Federalist Papers. So one cannot even say lobbying and campaign donations are somehow un-American.
The problem is that Congress currently budgets Federal programs with subterfuge, using bait and switch tactics. Up for funding is a military budget. Hidden inside, snuck into the bill by a Representative from Idaho, is a million dollars to help build a museum for the largest ball of string in Idaho. Behold a bill to fund Medicare ... don't look now, but behind the curtain is a chameleon like addition to fund a 2 million dollar study of the Illinois Crayfish Snake tacked onto the bill by a representative from Illinois.
So many hundreds of porkbarreling measures that bloat the budget to absurd levels of unnecessary spending are added to bills by Congressmen to pay back friends, constituents and -- yes -- lobbyists that it is no wonder that Congress seems to run out of money weeks into each new session.
Worse than the fact that they can sneak these crazy spending measures into nearly any bill, but I do believe that other Congressmen aren't even aware that such things are being added at any given time. So these dark of night spending measures are never even realized by anyone other than the Congressman who tacked it onto the bill. And one doubts if he would tell anyone other than the beneficiary of the pork!
It isn't lobbyists we need to curb. It is Congress' spending habits and processes. Make budgeting and spending transparent and then we might have reform.
Until then, if Indians want to waste their money on Harry Reid, who are we to say they can't?
-Warner Todd Huston