Garrett falsehood: "[N]either DeLay nor his aides have been charged"January 6, 2006 2:52 PM EST ››› EVA HOWE
Fox News correspondent Major Garrett stated that "neither [former House Majority Leader Tom] DeLay [R-TX] nor his aides have been charged" in the investigation surrounding former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In fact, while none of DeLay's current aides has been charged, Michael Scanlon, former DeLay communications director and subsequently Abramoff's lobbying partner, pleaded guilty to federal charges of bribery and fraud. Another former DeLay aide has also reportedly been implicated in Abramoff's plea agreement.
On November 21, 2005, Scanlon reached a plea bargain with prosecutors and agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to bribe several public officials, including a member of Congess. He also agreed to pay back more than $19 million he fraudulently charged Indian tribal clients. In return, Scanlon will help the Justice Department with its investigation into possible criminal activities of elected officials and staffers on Capitol Hill and in the Bush administration.
Another former DeLay aide, identified in Abramoff's plea agreement as "Staffer A," allegedly had an agreement with Abramoff "to perform a series of official acts, including stopping legislation involving internet gaming and opposing postal rate increases." Business Week reporter Eamon Javers and The New York Times have subsequently noted that the likely identity of "Staffer A" is Tony C. Rudy, former deputy chief of staff to DeLay. Additionally, the indictment states that Abramoff provided as compensation "10 monthly payments totaling $50,000 through a nonprofit entity to the wife of Staffer A." In return, Rudy allegedly helped kill a bill opposed by eLottery Inc, an Abramoff client. Subsequent reporting by The Washington Post has confirmed that the two former DeLay aides, Scanlon and Rudy, have been implicated in criminal activity. Rudy left DeLay's office in 2001 for a lobbying position with Abramoff at the firm Greenberg Traurig.
From the January 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
HUME: Prominent Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to three felony counts in Washington yesterday, was in Miami today to plead guilty to two more. Fox News correspondent Major Garrett reports these latest charges arise from Abramoff's efforts to purchase a casino cruise line.
GARRETT: Jack Abramoff entering federal court in Miami to plead guilty to a second set of felonies, this time conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, crimes arising from Abramoff's fraudulent effort to purchase SunCruz Casinos, a casino cruise line. Abramoff vowed to assist prosecutors in hopes of lowering his sentence, now a minimum of four years, eight months.
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA (U.S. attorney): To the extent that he cooperates, we are willing to work with him and to consider how to proceed.
GARRETT: Abramoff cut a similar deal Tuesday when he pled guilty in Washington to three felonies. His testimony could lead to bribery or corruption charges against administration figures, powerful lawmakers, or top congressional staff.
NORMAN J. ORNSTEIN (American Enterprise Institute resident scholar): This is much bigger than one rogue lobbyist and a handful of greedy members who took bribes. This is really about an abuse of power that goes into some depth, with lobbyists having incredible access to members of Congress and people in the administration holding up clients for tens of millions of dollars.
GARRETT: Abramoff has pled guilty to bilking five Indian tribes of millions of dollars. He also leaned on these and other clients to donate millions to members of Congress. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, clients have made more than $4.4 million in political contributions since 2000. Republican committees or lawmakers received $2.8 million, Democratic committees or candidates, $1.5 million
ROGER STONE (Republican strategist): The Abramoff scandal has the capacity to take down members of Congress of both parties, Republican and Democrats.
GARRETT: Abramoff is an associate of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and former DeLay aides have been tied to Abramoff's criminal deeds. Neither DeLay nor his aides have been charged. DeLay has denied wrongdoing even as he fights money-laundering charges in Texas. The question now: Will Abramoff's case complicate DeLay's efforts to regain his majority leader post?