BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Boy Can Dream

Yo.

Scanlon, Abramoff `Backroom Guy,' Points Probers at DeLay, Ney

A boy can dream, can't he?
Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- For more than a year, Michael Scanlon has been a shadowy presence behind former partner Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist at the center of a corruption probe. Now, Scanlon may help prosecutors raise the investigation to a higher level.

Scanlon, a former aide to Representative Tom DeLay, is scheduled to appear today in U.S. District Court to present a plea bargain with the Justice Department likely to lead to his cooperation with investigators. His testimony would ratchet up the pressure on Abramoff and aid prosecutors in widening the investigation to members of Congress, such as Republicans DeLay and Representative Robert Ney of Ohio.
I truly believe that "somebody" has decided that it's time for DeLay to go.

Somebody bigger than all of us:
Scanlon, 35, is the second person to face criminal charges in connection with the Justice Department-led probe of the 46- year-old Abramoff. In October, a federal grand jury indicted the White House's former chief procurement officer, David Safavian, once an Abramoff associate, for obstruction and making false statements.

"Now you have two people instead of one,'' said Stan Brand, a former counsel to the House of Representatives when it was controlled by the Democrats. "What you're building is a ladder. You have Abramoff at the intermediate step, elected officials above him, and Scanlon and Safavian underneath.''

Beyond the potential legal concerns, Scanlon's cooperation with authorities may spell political jeopardy for Republicans leading into next year's elections, especially if he helps draw other lawmakers into the investigation. "He knows where all the bodies are buried,'' said a congressional aide who worked with Scanlon.

`Representative #1'

The Justice Department on Nov. 18 charged Scanlon with conspiring with "Lobbyist A'' -- identified by a person close to the investigation as Abramoff -- to defraud Indian-tribe clients and corrupt federal officials. Those officials included a lawmaker identified only as "Representative #1.''

Ney, chairman of the House Committee on Administration, who took an Abramoff-sponsored trip to Scotland in 2002, said earlier this month that prosecutors had subpoenaed records. A spokesman for Ney, 51, said the lawmaker hasn't been told he's a target.

Scanlon's lawyer, Stephen Braga, said his client agreed to the plea bargain to "resolve the charge,'' declining further comment.

As investigators get closer to Abramoff, they may also get closer to DeLay, said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, an Austin-based group that has called for a special prosecutor to investigate DeLay.

`Dirt on DeLay'

"It's likely that Abramoff has lots of dirt on Tom DeLay,'' McDonald said. "The further Abramoff sinks into trouble, the more likely he is to start pitching that dirt.''

DeLay, 58, who once called the lobbyist "one of my closest friends'' and went on an Abramoff-sponsored trip to Scotland in 2000, stepped down as House majority leader after being indicted in September in an unrelated campaign-finance case in Texas.

Other Republican lawmakers may find themselves under scrutiny as well. Senator Conrad Burns, a Montana Republican, helped win a $3 million government award for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan to build a school, the Washington Post reported earlier this year.

The Interior Department ruled the tribe was ineligible because its Soaring Eagle casino makes it one of the richest, the Post reported.

The tribe, an Abramoff client, donated $32,000 to Burns from 2001 to 2003.
Real players...play Barona.

More later.

Bush is still in Asia - not sure where McClellan is...

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