The Washington Times reports that investigators in the Abramoff probe are focusing their attention on five “top tier” Congressional suspects: Senators Conrad Burns, Montana Republican; Byron Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat; and Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, along with Reps. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, and Bob Ney, Ohio Republican. If that’s true, the Democrats will have a hard time painting this as a Republican problem. And, as we’ve said before, what has been publicly disclosed about the claim against Congressman Ney is less than overwhelming.
In more concrete scandal news, an aide to Democratic Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana is expected to plead guilty this afternoon to “bribery of public officials and conspiracy.” It appears that the target of the investigation is Jefferson; news accounts focus on a telecommunications deal Jefferson was involved in in Nigeria.
Given the public’s inclination to believe the worst of both parties, I think it will be hard for the Democrats to paint the current round of investigations as a Republican problem. The public, for example, never perceived the Charles Keating savings and loan scandal as a Democratic issue, in part because John McCain, who was on the periphery of the investigation, was nominally included as one of the “Keating Five.”
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