Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What To Make of This.....

First the good news:
Abramoff Partner Pleads Guilty
Scanlon Admits He Conspired to Bribe Lawmaker

By James V. Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 22, 2005; Page A01

A onetime congressional staffer who became a top partner to lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to bribe a congressman and other public officials and agreed to pay back more than $19 million he fraudulently charged Indian tribal clients.

The plea agreement between prosecutors and Michael Scanlon, a former press secretary to then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), provided fresh detail about the alleged bribes. The document also indicated the nature of testimony Scanlon is prepared to offer against a congressman it calls "Representative #1" -- who has been identified by attorneys in the case as Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio).

Scanlon, a 35-year-old former public relations executive, faces a maximum five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but the penalty could be reduced depending on the level of his cooperation with prosecutors. His help is expected to be crucial to the Justice Department's wide-ranging Abramoff investigation, which began early last year after the revelation that Scanlon and the lobbyist took in tens of millions of dollars from Indian tribes unaware of their secret partnership to jack up fees and split profits.

Investigators are looking at half a dozen members of Congress, current and former senior Hill aides, a former deputy secretary of the interior, and Abramoff's former lobbying colleagues, according to sources familiar with the probe who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Because of his central role in much of Abramoff's business, Scanlon could be a key witness in any trials that arise from the case.
Now, the possibly-not-good news:
DeLay Lawyers to Seek Dismissal
By APRIL CASTRO, Associated Press Writer

AUSTIN, Texas - Attorneys for Rep. Tom DeLay are hoping a judge will dismiss the conspiracy and money laundering charges against the former House majority leader so he can regain the powerful seat.

DeLay was to appear in court Tuesday before a judge who will decide whether the criminal case should continue to trial.

DeLay had to relinquish his leadership post in Congress after he was indicted in September. His attorneys are pushing for a December trial in hopes that DeLay is cleared so he can regain his title before Congress returns to session in January. Otherwise, lawmakers could elect a new majority leader.

Tuesday's hearing is DeLay's first before Senior Judge Pat Priest, who was appointed to the case after DeLay's attorneys succeeded in having the first judge removed because of his campaign contributions to Democratic candidates and causes.

DeLay is accused of funneling $190,000 in restricted corporate money from his Texas political action committee to an arm of the Republican National Committee, which then gave the same amount of money to Texas legislative candidates in 2002. The direct use of corporate money for political purposes is illegal in Texas.

DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, has filed multiple legal briefs detailing why he believes the charges against the lawmaker should be dismissed.

The defense contends, for example, that DeLay shouldn't be charged with conspiracy to violate the election code because the law wasn't on the books until 2003, a year after DeLay's alleged offenses occurred.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has said state law has long defined conspiracy as an agreement to commit any felony, including a violation of the election code.

DeLay's attorneys also want to have the trial moved from liberal-leaning Austin, where they say he cannot get a fair trial, to his home county of Fort Bend. But that issue likely won't be decided until a later hearing.
Odd juxtaposition of events, wouldn't you say?

My guess is DeLay's lawyers are panicked that Abramoff will turn and that DeLay will be in double-deep-doo-doo.