Robert Novak reports that Jack Abramoff has told friends that he has no derogatory information about former Majority Leader Tom DeLay:
Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has advised friends that he has no derogatory information about former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and is not implicating him as part of his plea bargain with federal prosecutors.
Abramoff’s guilty plea on fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy charges requires him to provide evidence about members of Congress. That led to speculation that this would mean trouble for DeLay, who faces money laundering and conspiracy charges in Texas.
However, Abramoff has not given a clean bill of health to any other congressman — including Rep. Robert Ney, who has stepped down as chairman of the House Administration Committee. Ney was the only member of Congress named in court papers connected with Abramoff’s guilty plea Jan. 4.
Which means, I think, that allegations relating to DeLay have turned out to be all smoke and no fire. The criminal charges against DeLay by the corrupt and hyper-political Travis County D.A., Ronnie Earle, are, I think, a joke.
What I still don’t understand is, what exactly is the Jack Abramoff “scandal”? Abramoff got caught trying to defraud investors in a cruise ship, but that had nothing to do with Congress. Yet prosecutors gave him a break in return for his agreement to testify against Congressmen. The question is, does he have anything to say?
If we begin by acknowledging that neither lobbying nor making political contributions is illegal, or unethical, or in the slightest degree blameworthy, it is hard to tell from the news coverage to date what the “scandal” is. The only Congressman named in the criminal information filed against Abramoff is Bob Ney of Ohio, but, as I noted here, the claims relating to Ney appear weak. So far, I’ve heard no inkling of any more substantial evidence Abramoff has offered to give against any other Congressman.
I’m not saying there isn’t an Abramoff scandal. There might be. I just can’t figure out what it is.