"What's black and white and read all over?"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Posted 8:47 PM by

Zero-sum game: One going in, one getting out

I'm sorry I took the money. I'm awfully sorry. I'm very sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm Soooorrrrrrrryyyy!Lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sentenced Wednesday to nearly six years in prison for fraud, but will remain free while helping prosecutors with a bribery investigation that could snag up to 20 members of Congress.

Abramoff and former business partner Adam Kidan admitted in January they faked a $23 million wire transfer to make it appear they were contributing their own money toward buying the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet for $147.5 million. Based on the fraud, lenders gave them $60 million.

A few days after his guilty plea in the fraud case, Abramoff pleaded guilty in Washington to defrauding Indian tribes and other lobbying clients out of millions of dollars. He also agreed to cooperate in a corruption probe that may snare former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.

Standing before U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck, Abramoff appeared remorseful, saying he was becoming a new man and addded, "I can only hope that the almighty and those whom I have wronged will forgive me my trespasses."

God might. However, Congress is already turning the other butt cheek and mooning America.

A few hours after Abramoff got judged, the Senate passed an ethics bill Wednesday - its first overhaul on lobbying rules in a decade - that focused on disclosure but went light on punishment.

The legislation would bar lawmakers from accepting gifts or meals from lobbyists or moving quickly to lobbying jobs after retiring. But members of Congress could still use corporate jets for the price of a first-class ticket with pre-clearance of the ethics committee. They also could still accept free lodging, travel and meals from non-lobbyists.

On Tuesday, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have created an independent Office of Public Integrity to probe charges of ethics violations.

"Trust is the foundation of our democratic government," Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said in an apparent alzheimers moment, forgetting the Delay and Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham scandals, minutes before the Senate voted 90-8 to pass the bill.

Meanwhile, federal prison authorities have found real estate magnate Charles B. Kushner fit for early release after less than a year in jail over the objections of the federal prosecutor who put him there.


The hardcover memoir of gay, disgraced former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, "The Confession," is being pre-sold on before its Sept. 19 release for $16.98. To buy a copy, click here.

Kushner was the largest campaign donor to former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey and gave millions of dollars to the Democratic National Committee. He was sentenced to two years in the slam for campaign finance and tax law violations as well as for retaliating against a witness - his own brother-in-law - by having him seduced by a prostitute.

Kushner also sponsored the work visa for Golan Cipel, the Israeli whom McGreevey appointed to head New Jersey's Homeland Defense efforts after 9/11. McGreevey later claimed Cipel tried to extort up to $50 million from him to keep secret their alleged gay sexual tryst.

As for McGreevey, the first gay governor ever outted while in office has penned a memoir called "The Confession," due in bookstores on Sept 19. The publisher, Regan Books, previously printed the tell-alls of steroid-abuser Jose Canseco and sex-crazed political operative Dick Morris.


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