Monday, November 21, 2005

$19.7 Million?

via The Hill: Scanlon to pay $19.7M
Former public-relations consultant and House GOP aide Michael Scanlon yesterday turned on his former business partner, Jack Abramoff, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to bribe public officials and defraud Indian tribes as part of a plea bargain with federal prosecutors.

Scanlon, who has been cooperating with prosecutors since June, agreed to pay $19.7 million in restitution to the tribes, according to his plea agreement. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, though his sentencing will be deferred until Scanlon has finished helping prosecutors with their case.

Scanlon’s cooperation brings the government a step closer to charging Abramoff or others in its wide-ranging investigation of the former lobbyist’s dealings with Indian gaming tribes, members of Congress and other Washington power players. Abramoff and Scanlon have been accused of bilking tribes of more than $66 million over the course of several years.

This is great news of course, though not for Abramoff, DeLay and a few hundred of their closest friends. But what just struck me is this: The 35-year old Scanlon didn't dunk basketballs for a living. He didn't start a dot-com flash-in-the-can. All he had to sell was his influence.

How corrupt is our system when a 35 year old lobbyist has no trouble paying $19.7 million dollars in restitution? That means his profit margin on the baksheesh he funneled to his Republican friends was at least that much, and the gross number laundered through him must have been significantly larger still.

And K Street is a veritable termite mound of Scanlons.


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