Is the loudest voice on alleged Republican corruption related to lobbying not practicing what he preaches? Via AP:
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid wrote at least four letters helpful to Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff, and the senator’s staff regularly had contact with the disgraced lobbyist’s team about legislation affecting other clients.
The activities _ detailed in billing records and correspondence obtained by The Associated Press _ are far more extensive than previously disclosed. They occurred over three years as Reid collected nearly $68,000 in donations from Abramoff’s firm, lobbying partners and clients.
Reid’s office acknowledged Thursday having “routine contacts” with Abramoff’s lobbying partners and intervening on some government matters _ such as blocking some tribal casinos _ in ways Abramoff’s clients might have deemed helpful. But it said none of his actions were affected by donations or done for Abramoff.
“All the actions that Senator Reid took were consistent with his long- held beliefs, such as not letting tribal casinos expand beyond reservations, and were taken to defend the interests of Nevada constituents,” spokesman Jim Manley said.
Reid, D-Nev., has led the Democratic Party’s attacks portraying Abramoff’s lobbying and fundraising as a Republican scandal.
But Abramoff’s records show his lobbying partners billed for nearly two dozen phone contacts or meetings with Reid’s office in 2001 alone.
Most were to discuss Democratic legislation that would have applied the U.S. minimum wage to the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory and Abramoff client, but would have given the islands a temporary break on the wage rate, the billing records show.
Reid also intervened on government matters at least five times in ways helpful to Abramoff’s tribal clients, once opposing legislation on the Senate floor and four times sending letters pressing the Bush administration on tribal issues. Reid collected donations around the time of each action.
Ethics rules require senators to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in collecting contributions around the times they take official acts benefiting donors.
Abramoff’s firm also hired one of Reid’s top legislative aides as a lobbyist. The aide later helped throw a fundraiser for Reid at Abramoff’s firm that raised donations from several of his lobbying partners.
And Reid’s longtime chief of staff accepted a free trip to Malaysia arranged by a consulting firm connected to Abramoff that recently has gained attention in the influence-peddling investigation that has gripped the Capitol.
Stay tuned ………
Reminder: Here’s the chart on how Abramoff spread the wealth.
Related Toldjah So posts: