November 25, 2005
The Abramoff net widens
And the (paid-subscription) Wall Street Journal has the scoop:
A Justice Department investigation into possible influence-peddling by prominent Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff is examining his dealings with four lawmakers, more than a dozen current and former congressional aides and two former Bush administration officials, according to lawyers and others involved in the case.
Investigators want to know whether Mr. Abramoff and his lobbying firm partners made illegal payoffs to lawmakers and aides in the form of campaign contributions, sports tickets, meals, travel and job offers, in exchange for helping their clients.
The Justice Department’s probe is far broader than previously thought. Though it remains smaller than the congressional influence-peddling scandals of the 1970s, its focus on prominent Republicans raises the risk of serious embarrassment to the party before next year’s congressional elections. Those involved in Mr. Abramoff’s case say that the Justice Department investigation could take years to complete.
Prosecutors in the department’s public integrity and fraud divisions – separate units that report to the assistant attorney general for the criminal division – are looking into Mr. Abramoff’s interactions with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio), Rep. John Doolittle (R., Calif.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R., Mont.), according to several people close to the investigation. Messrs. DeLay and Ney have retained criminal defense lawyers. Spokespeople for Messrs. Doolittle and Burns said they haven’t hired lawyers.
So a great opportunity for lawyers specializing in lost causes.
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