Abramoff Bribery Scandal Shines a Light on a Grave Threat to Democracy

Several organizations are calling for “reform” of the campaign-finance and lobbying system. This is a mistake. It is very important to understand that this Abramoff scandal is about breaking laws, not about any need for reform of existing laws. But more than that, it is about an attempt to change America into a one-party state.
This scandal is about the leadership of the Republican Party creating a self-perpetuating system where public money is spent to promote a non-democratic, divisive, destructive ideology and perpetuate one-party control — THEIR control — of the country.

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Abramoff and the Conservative Think Tank Racket

Bill Berkowitz, writing at Media Transparency, has a piece titled Paying to play, expanding on why the Abramoff investigation should trigger a look into the “conservative movement” think tanks that Abramoff was working with.

Revelations that Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff bought op-ed pieces from fellows at right wing think tanks should unleash an investigation into two decades of so-called research paid for by conservative philanthropies

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Abramoff Indictment Hides Connection to RWNM

In a sign that the Bush Justice Department is working to minimize damage to the “conservative movement” stemming from the Abramoff scandal, the indictment and plea agreement ignore his misuse of the Capital Athletic Foundation. According to philanthropic watchdog National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy the indictment reveals “the debilitated condition of government oversight of nonprofits and foundations.”

The indictments and resulting plea agreement acknowledge the dubious if not illegal grantmaking of Abramoff’s Capitol Athletic Foundation (CAF) in more than one instance, but fail to penalize Abramoff on his abuse of the CAF as a personal cash reserve.
… For the past two years, alone among national philanthropic nonprofits, NCRP has detailed and denounced a variety of Abramoff’s misuses of philanthropy and called for IRS investigations, to no avail.

You see, the entire “conservative movement” operation depends on tax-free donations to so-called “charitable” organizations like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and hundreds of other national and state organizations that are supposed to be non-partisan but in reality operate almost entirely to the benefit of the Republican Party. So any kind of crackdown on the misuse of tax-free charitable donations would threaten the continued existence of the right-wing noise machine itself.

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News On Abramoff Case

At The All Spin Zone, Culture of Corruption: Scope of Abramoff Probe Becoming Clearer,

Most people won’t be paying attention today (does anyone actually read the newspaper on Saturday?), but the Washington Post delves into the depths of casinogate, and the impact that’s sure to come. Apparently, the investigation of former DeLay minion Jack Abramoff is expanding, and very, very active. A wide net is being tossed, and a lot of fish are about to be caught:

But you gotta go to All Spin Zone for the rest.