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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Real Scandal: Our Big Money Political System

Published on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 by
by Nick Nyhart
With the news of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleading guilty to charges of fraud, conspiracy, and tax evasion, officials in Washington are running scared. No wonder: in copping the plea, Abramoff has agreed to cooperate with the feds on a far-reaching investigation that could touch as many as 60 lawmakers and aides, according to some news reports. The exposure of our elected officials trading political favors for campaign cash won?t be a pretty sight. But as the web of Abramoff?s influence is revealed, we are virtually guaranteed that many lawmakers will try to ignore the broader scandal: our pay-to-play political system which is at the heart of the Abramoff convictions.
Abramoff is a confirmed crook. He took massive kickbacks, created sham charities, and directed millions in campaign contributions while lavishing trips and meals and gifts on Washington lawmakers with the expectation of legislative paybacks and favors. But what Abramoff did in his relations with politicians is no different than what thousands of Washington lobbyists do all the time, except perhaps in the magnitude of his reach.


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