January 5, 2006
In the wake of the guilty pleas by Jack Abramoff, President Bush will donate to charity $6,000 in campaign funds that were directly given to him by Abramoff. The lobbyist raised a total of $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, however, and the Public Citizen group called Bush's action insufficient. Although Republicans are clearly in the most trouble over the Abramoff affair, some Democrats such as Dick Durbin and Harry Reid may be implicated in it as well. See Washington Post. Since this scandal has been brewing since at least last summer, it would have looked better if this gesture had been made several months ago.
In Virginia, Rep. Eric Cantor, a 42-year young Republican from Richmond who has risen quickly to the post of Chief Deputy Majority Whip, declared that he will give away $10,000 of Abramoff's money. Cantor, along with Dennis Hastert, Tom DeLay, and Roy Blunt -- the four leaders of the majority caucus in the House -- signed a letter that urged Secretary of Interior Gale Norton on June 10, 2003 to turn down a request for off-reservation gambling establishments by certain Indian tribes, apparently at the behest of Jack Abramoff. The other primary target of the corruption inquiry is Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio. See Judicial Watch.
UPDATE: The Associated Press has a long list of politicians who have given back campaign donations from Jack Abramoff or his associates in recent months. First place "honors" go to Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), who donated about $150,000. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) donated $2,000 of campaign funds that came from Abramoff, about the average amount that most senators and representatives received.
On the bright side for the GOP, former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Lynn Swann announced he is running for Governor of Pennsylvania this year as a Republican. See AP.com.