Abramoff and Reid 

Abramoff and Reid

The AP has said Harry Reid, Democratic leader in the Senate, has received "Abramoff-related" donations amounting to over $60,000.

This is at least partly sloppy reporting. No one is saying Reid received money directly from Abramoff. No one is even saying they ever met (in contrast to, say, Bush and Abramoff). At most Reid received money from Indian tribes who were clients of Abramoff's. Reid also met with people at Abramoff's lobbying firm--or, more likely, Reid's staff did.

Do Indian tribes take orders from Abramoff as to whom to give money to? Have they ever done so? They are not like some of the dummy corporations Abramoff set up, specifically to channel money to politicians. The claim is now made that certain tribes only started giving money to Reid after these tribes became clients of Abramoff's; that Reid received money, at least in some cases, shortly after speaking in favour of the cause these tribes pursued. It looks like Reid is able to say he kept on defending the same old cause: no Indian gambling off reservation, especially if the request was a cover for a land claim. That is his long-standing view. If a tribe was prepared to pay him to keep saying the same thing, why not?

Minimum wage on the Marianas is more murky. Reid was actually a co-sponsor of the legislation to raise the minimum wage in all U.S. territory, including the Marianas. Republicans opposed any raise, especially in the Marianas. This is the issue on which Reid and his staff met with lobbyists associated with Abramoff. Did they discuss keeping the minimum wage low in Marianas, while leaving the rest of the bill untouched, or, as one former Reid staffer is now saying, did they simply discuss the timing of the debate on the bill?

I don't think there is anything solid against Reid here. Yet Instapundit jumps on it again, along with more rabid Bushie sites. I think the AP reporters like the story, as the Washington post liked their line about Abramoff helping both Republicans and Democrats, because they enjoy a sense of moral superiority: they're all corrupt, a pox on both their houses. Yet if this is the only Abramoff connection they can find to any Democrats, they don't have much.

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