With his January 3rd guilty plea to three felony counts of conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion super lobbyist Jack Abramoff sent several members of congress scurrying to their coffers to return whatever funds they received from him.
Investigations into the Abramoff scandal have revealed an impressive list of connections to politicians, pundits and even the President. A Libertarian was caught up in the mess when the now former Cato Institute Senior Fellow Doug Bandow (pictured in this post) admitted to accepting payments from Abramoff to promote his clients in his syndicated Op-Ed pieces. From BusinessWeek.com:
Doug Bandow, who writes a syndicated column for Copley News Service, told BusinessWeek Online that he had accepted money from Abramoff for writing between 12 and 24 articles over a period of years, beginning in the mid ’90s.
Bandow confirms that he received $2,000 for some pieces, but says it was “usually less than that amount.” He says he wrote all the pieces himself, though with topics and information provided by Abramoff. He adds that he wouldn’t write about subjects that didn’t interest him.
On January 4th, 2006 Bandow wrote “The lesson Jack Abramoff taught me,” an article in the L.A. Times addressing the Abramoff connection which he declared would be his “last word on the past.” After a few paragraphs of humility and excuse Bandow asks the reader a series of questions in a kind of “everyone does it so what’s the big deal” type of defense:
These are not excuses for my actions — these are issues that should be addressed. Is it “journalism” if the research is helped along by a foundation whose board members have some interest in the subject? How can we be sure that newspapers keep advertisers out of news decisions? Don’t broadcast media hire consultants and pollsters to contribute to their news coverage, people who could benefit financially from promoting the ideas of their other clients? And haven’t reporters sometimes pocketed thousands of dollars speaking at conventions or corporate events and then covered those businesses — or their issues — in one way or another?
Like everyone involved with Abramoff, Bandow was offered money for his influence. Bandow says that he never wrote anything that contradicted his beliefs and that his “biases are too fixed and well known to allow a convenient conversion.” But, it really doesn’t matter in the end… it’s the association that kills your credibility.
PACs are powerful and guys like Abramoff exist because the politicians and punditry ACCEPT what they are being offered.
Maybe this will be the good in an obviously bad situation? Abramoff’s actions will push “K” street to the election podium in 2006 and force politicans to rethink who and where they get their funding from.
Hey, a guy can dream can’t he?
Update by Mike Horn:
Can dreams come true!?
With Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) formally removed from congressional leadership, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) took the next step yesterday in Republican efforts to distance the party from a growing corruption scandal, saying the House will move soon to tighten the rules governing lobbyists’ access to lawmakers. (WashingtonPost.com)