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Questions for Would-be Majority Leaders and Whips

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Before any Member of the GOP Caucus commits a vote for any candidate for any leadership post, he or she should be insisting on answers to the following three questions:

What, exactly, are your ties to Jack Abramoff’s various operations?

Were you entertained at any of his skyboxes, and if so, how often and when?

Did you have signature privileges at Signatures restaurant?

This last question may well be the detail that catches the public’s attention –and ire– and rightfully so. Some buzz is that more than a hundred members of Congress had “signature” privileges at this Abramaoff establishment, in essence allowing comped meals for the legislators involved. If true –and it is not yet proven– that list and the amount of their tabs could become as explosive a symbol as the bounced checks scandal of the early ’90s.

The tip of the potentially iceberg-sized tab came into view last July with a New York Times’ story last July
that targeted Tom DeLay and Dana Rohrabacher, and which included this denial about the alleged “comp list”: “[T]here has never been a comp list at Signatures authorized by Mr. Abramoff.”

There are plenty of reasons why a Congressman can accept a meal from a lobbyist, including the “friendship” exemption that Congressman Rohrabacher references.

But before a new leadership is elected, the GOP caucus has to figure out if the new faces of the caucus are going to be free of the Abramoff taint. Tough questions now will result in a leadership better positioned to push the agenda forward in a critical election year.

UPDATE: See the blog post Congressman Harold Ford’s Senate campaign site for a taste of how the Abramoff scandal will play out in 2006. Note Ford’s question for his GOP opponents –did you attend functions at Signatures? If this is an obvious question this far out from a Senate race, it had better be an obvious question in the GOP Caucus as it deliberates over its new leadership slaate.


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