ABRAMOFF: The K-Street Bag Man Bites
|The man who will rat out the Republicans. You think this man ain't gonna squeal? Fughetaboutit.|
“…talking about staff. Let
me tell ya, the members have no idea. When the staff member is taken down to
a place like Signatures and given a bottle of Opus One and caviar and lobster,
and then two weeks later you see this nut sitting in front of you and your staff
guy comes in… And you say, why am I visiting with this guy? Well, I know him
and he's a good egg and you need to talk to him. …” – former
Republican Senator Alan Simpson
The bag man who made it possible for all the president's party
has his friends running for cover.
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is now going to give back
around $69,000 of the bag man's money. It's going to go to charity. Maybe Denny will give it to Charity for Children, The Hammer's
charitable arm, or would that be Tommy's Americans for a Republican Majority
Political Action Committee (ARMPAC)? Pick one, they're all the same.
Alan Simpson's “Hardball” beauty was as hilarious as it was ludicrous.
Portraying the congressperson who takes a meeting with someone, which came as a suggestion
from some staffer, as a victim. Somehow that just doesn't fit the
Delay-Hastert-Ney power picture or the plot of the story slowly spinning out of Republican control.
In the Republican Congress currently holding sway we have not
only had abject greed and corruption, but we've also had Republican senators
willing to look the other way to protect the big boss, as they did with Bush
on intelligence matters surrounding Iraq.
But as Charlie Cook said today on MSNBC, “Who wants to buy the minority?”
Exactly. The Republicans set it up this way and it all started very purposefully with the K-Street
The Republican purge of K Street is a
more thorough, ruthless, vindictive, and effective attack on Democratic lobbyists
and other Democrats who represent businesses and other organizations than
anything Washington has seen before. The Republicans don't simply want to
take care of their friends and former aides by getting them high-paying jobs:
they want the lobbyists they helped place in these jobs and other corporate
representatives to arrange lavish trips for themselves and their wives; to
invite them to watch sports events from skyboxes; and, most important, to
provide a steady flow of campaign contributions. The former aides become part
of their previous employers' power networks. Republican leaders also want
to have like-minded people on K Street who can further their ideological goals
by helping to formulate their legislative programs, get them passed, and generally
circulate their ideas. When I suggested to Grover Norquist, the influential
right-wing leader and the leading enforcer of the K Street Project outside
Congress, that numerous Democrats on K Street were not particularly ideological
and were happy to serve corporate interests, he replied, “We
don't want nonideological people on K Street, we want conservative activist
Republicans on K Street.”
When the Republicans first announced
the K Street Project after they won a majority in Congress in the 1994 election,
they warned Washington lobbying and law firms that if they wanted to have
appointments with Republican legislators they had better hire more Republicans.
This was seen as unprecedentedly heavy-handed, but their deeper purposes weren't
yet understood. Since the Democrats had been in power on Capitol
Hill for a long time, many of the K Street firms then had more Democrats than
Republicans or else they were evenly balanced. But the Democrats had been
hired because they were well connected with prominent Democrats on Capitol
Hill, not because Democratic Congresses demanded it. Moreover, it makes sense
for lobbying firms that want access to members of Congress to hire people
with good contacts in the majority partyâ€”especially former members or
aides of the current leaders. But the bullying tactics of Republicans in the
late 1990s were new.
DeLay, Santorum, and their associates organized
a systematic campaign, closely monitored by Republicans on Capitol Hill and
by Grover Norquist and the Republican National Committee, to put pressure
on firms not just to hire Republicans but also to fire Democrats.
With the election of Bush, this pressure became stronger. …
Abramoff couldn't have happened without help, planning and plotting, which came in abundance from the Republicans in Congress.
It's what Tom Delay put in motion, with a lot of help, including the man who
took his place, Missouri's
Jack is facing a lot of years in prison, with the judge holding
out his final decision until he sees what and who Abramoff gives up. No wonder
Hastert gave back the $69 grand, with a lot more Republicans nervous about the noose finally being tightened. There should be odds in Vegas on who flips next. Staffers, anyone?