A onetime congressional staffer who became a top partner to lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to bribe a congressman and other public officials and agreed to pay back more than $19 million he fraudulently charged Indian tribal clients.With a five-year sentence to Federal Pound You in the Ass Prison hanging over him, Scanlon is almost certain to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against the congressmen in question. I'd say Ney is a lock to go down, and DeLay's certainly in trouble too.
The plea agreement between prosecutors and Michael Scanlon, a former press secretary to then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), provided fresh detail about the alleged bribes. The document also indicated the nature of testimony Scanlon is prepared to offer against a congressman it calls "Representative #1" -- who has been identified by attorneys in the case as Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio). [...]
Investigators are looking at half a dozen members of Congress, current and former senior Hill aides, a former deputy secretary of the interior, and Abramoff's former lobbying colleagues, according to sources familiar with the probe who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Because of his central role in much of Abramoff's business, Scanlon could be a key witness in any trials that arise from the case.
But the problem for the GOP goes much wider than the individual acts of corruption. Right at the moment that the public has decided that the Republicans aren't trustworthy, we're likely to have the single greatest exposure of congressional corruption since the Abscam sting of the early '80s. If the image of Republican corruptiuon dovetails with the reality of Republican incompetence in the minds of voters, we could really be seeing the start of a blue wave in 2006.
But to take back Congress, the Democrats are going to need to do more than simply watch the Republicans self-destruct. If you'd like to help, check out the DCCC and DSCC blogs for local races that you can get involved with, and involved with soon.