Abramoff Scandal May Snare Democrat Senator Harry Reid
By Jim Kouri
(AXcess News) New York - This morning's big story that Washington super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff has reached a plea bargain deal with the Justice Department has Washington insiders and pundits believing this case will hurt the Republican Party.
However, according to a news story appearing on NewsMax.com, the prominent player in Abramoff's web of influence may be the Senate's top Democrat, Harry Reid.
In a little noticed story in November, the Associated Press revealed that Reid had accepted tens of thousands of dollars from an Abramoff client, the Coushatta Indian tribe, after interceding with Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton over a casino dispute with a rival tribe.
Reid "sent a letter to Norton on March 5, 2002," reported the AP. "The next day, the Coushattas issued a $5,000 check to Reid's tax-exempt political group, the Searchlight Leadership Fund. A second tribe represented by Abramoff sent an additional $5,000 to Reid's group. Reid ultimately received more than $66,000 in Abramoff-related donations between 2001 and 2004."
Questioned about the donations last month by "Fox News Sunday's" Chris Wallace, Reid immediately turned testy.
"Don't try to say I received money from Abramoff. I've never met the man, don't know anything," he insisted.
When Wallace protested: "But you've received money from [one of his Indian tribe clients]," the top Democrat shot back: "Make sure that all your viewers understand - not a penny from Abramoff. I've been on the Indian Affairs Committee my whole time in the Senate."
When the Fox host pressed again on the Abramoff-linked donations, a flustered-sounding Reid continued to stonewall, saying: "I'll repeat, Abramoff gave me no money. His firm gave me no money. He may have worked for a firm where people have given me money. But I have -- I feel totally at ease that I haven't done anything that is even close to being wrong."
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