Jack attack.

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Jan. 3 2006 7:28 PM

Jack Attack

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff sows panic through Washington.

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Grover Norquist—The president of Americans for Tax Reform and longtime Abramoff friend, Norquist donated $1 million in ATR funds to an anti-lottery and gaming coalition, a portion of which supported Ralph Reed's phony grass-roots organizing for Abramoff. Norquist also arranged White House meetings for Abramoff's tribal client. Congressional investigators suspect that Norquist, whose organization receives money from Indian tribes Abramoff represented, may have been laundering funds for Abramoff. But Norquist was never interviewed or called to testify before Sen. John McCain's Indian affairs committee. Norquist has not yet talked to investigators in the Abramoff probe and says the White House meeting with Indian leaders was unconnected—merely a reward for tribes that had passed resolutions supporting the president's policies.

David Safavian—The Bush administration's former chief procurement official has already been charged with obstruction and making false statements to federal investigators and Senate aides investigating Abramoff. He allegedly claimed Abramoff had no business before GSA when he accompanied the lobbyist on a lavish golf trip to Scotland, along with Ney. Prosecutors say Safavian was actively helping Abramoff obtain a lease on the Old Post Office building for one of his Indian tribal clients and leasing other government property for the private school he founded. Now that Jack is talking, Safavian will no longer have to wonder who the government's chief witness against him will be.

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Rep. Denny Hastert—The House speaker is not personally threatened by the Abramoff plea, but his Republican majority may be. If nothing else, the scandal may shrink the margin he has to work with after the 2006 election. Democrats have been trying to overcome the fact that congressional races tend to be about local issues by labeling the GOP the party of corruption. Indictments of Republican lawmakers will help. As Republicans find themselves in a position of having to defend possibly legal but clearly sleazy relationships with criminal lobbyists, it may give Democrats a chance to overcome the advantages of incumbency.

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