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February 9, 2006
When Harry Met Jack

After weeks of harping on the emerging Jack Abramoff scandal as an example of the Republican "culture of corruption" and debating for the last day about the proximity to George Bush that Abramoff had, Democrats may find the investigation hits too close to home to continue celebrating. The AP reported earlier today that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid intervened on four separate occasions on behalf of Abramoff clients and that Reid coordinated on legislative efforts with the lobbyist's office:

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. ...

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.

This isn't the first time that Reid's connections to Abramoff have come up, but the AP has drawn much more clear lines between Reid and Abramoff than was known before. The AP also reminds its readers that Abramoff hired a former Reid staffer as one of its lobbyists, who promptly held fundraisers for Reid from the lobbyist's offices -- fact we noted seven months ago. Reid took over $40,000 from Abramoff clients for his enthusiastic bargaining on their behalf.

Again, without a doubt, Abramoff spent more money and effort on courting the GOP; after all, they are the party in power, and have been for a few years now. Democrats have made themselves look foolish by trying to convince people that the corruption only affected the GOP, though, and the revelations about their party leader will make that hypocrisy even more transparent.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 9, 2006 9:00 PM

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