Paul  Weyrich

The time has come to address the Abramoff Scandal. Let me make it clear: I know nothing about the workings of the scandal. As far as I can recollect I have met Abramoff only once. I never had a substantive conversation with him. I do have one burden on my heart regarding the whole mess.

One of the key figures in the scandal may be Anthony C. (“Tony”) Rudy, Representative Tom DeLay’s former Deputy Chief of Staff. I recommended Rudy to DeLay for employment. Rudy had been an excellent Senate employee and was known as a tireless worker. I thought DeLay would benefit by having some of Rudy’s expertise on his staff. Ironically, I never met with or spoke with Rudy once he was hired. There apparently are allegations that Rudy was an inside operative for Abramoff. Never would I have envisioned that Rudy might have behaved as allegedly he did. Oh, well, I have worse things on my conscience.

My comments about the scandal concern the politics of it all. At first glance it would seem that this scandal will harm Republicans more than Democrats. Republicans apparently accepted more money from Abramoff and his clients, although I must wonder if the vast majority of them had any specific knowledge why the contributions were flowing in. Democrats took money as well - in many cases not as much as Republicans but Democrats were not the party in power.

This is a touchy subject for Democrats. It became clear when Tim Russert, on Meet the Press, after listening to Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV) attack Republicans on the “culture of corruption” in Congress related to Abramoff, pointed out that Reid had accepted money from Abramoff. Reid shot back, telling Russert he had no business trying to make this a bi-partisan scandal. “This is a Republican scandal,” Reid barked at Russert. If it really were solely a Republican scandal not only would Reid not have reacted that way but he would not be compelled to react at all. Both new and old media would do his job for him.

As it stands now the new media is pounding away at the fact that Democrats received sizeable sums from Abramoff and the old media grudgingly has been forced to admit that was the case. In Montana, for example, Democrats have pounded away at Senator Conrad Burns (R), who is up for re-election this year, tying Abramoff and the scandal around Burns’ neck. Burns agreed to return the money and then it was revealed that Senator Max Baucus, Burns’ colleague from Montana and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, also took a sizeable sum from Abramoff and also is returning it.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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