Wednesday, January 04, 2006

GOP Corruption Limbo – How Low Can They Go?

One of the other shoes dropped in Washington yesterday – still waiting on Karl Rove's fate -- as the Republican party's mega-lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, copped a plea and elected to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion. The bad news for a large number of GOP Congressmen is that Abramoff has agreed to cooperate in a federal corruption probe in return for a lighter sentence.

Abramoff, who admitted to corrupting government officials and defrauding his own clients out of $25 million, must pay at least $26.7 million in restitution.

The plea agreement frees Abramoff from the possibility of the maximum 30-year prison sentence and he can now receive only 11 years in a federal prison. However, further cooperation in the investigation of federal corruption in Washington will likely be exchanged for an even greater sentence reduction at the end of the probe.

In other words, Abramoff's about to give up some big names to get the minimum amount of time on the cell block.

"Black Jack" Abramoff

"Words can never express my sorrow and profound regret," Abramoff told U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle. "Nor can they express my sadness and regret for my conduct. I ask for forgiveness and redemption from (the) Almighty."

Given that he's a longtime buddy to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Americans for Tax Reform director Grover Norquist, and former Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed, I'm sure many others are filled with a similar sorrow right now.

The Washington rumor mill has the number of Congressmen to be investigated at anywhere between six and two dozen, with the vast majority of them – if not all – Republican. This, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, was the tiniest surprise of the New Year.

"Today, Jack Abramoff admitted to conspiring to bribe members of Congress -- a despicable action that strikes at the heart of our democracy," said Pelosi. "Sadly, it is not a surprise because this Republican Congress is the most corrupt in history and the American people are paying the price."

It's going to be one hell of a year, folks...