The ax begins to fall on the Abramoff gang

The Justice Department files charges and Abramoff's partner, Michael Scanlon, cops a plea.

Published November 18, 2005 10:04PM (EST)

As if Republican legislators didn't have enough to worry about these days, what with Bush's plummeting poll numbers, Democrats on the (anti) warpath, grand jury investigations, and daily reports of fraud and death in Iraq, today the long simmering Abramoff lobbying scandal boiled over.

As reported by numerous outlets, Michael P.S. Scanlon, a business associate of Abramoff's, was charged today with conspiring to defraud multiple Native American tribes of millions of dollars.

Salon obtained a copy of the Justice Department filing; you can read it here.

By midafternoon, Roll Call was reporting that Scanlon had already reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and would testify against Abramoff.

But Abramoff and Scanlon aren't likely to be the only ones who take a fall. The Justice Department filing charges that Scanlon did "knowingly conspire, confederate and agree with Lobbyist A [Abramoff]" to "corruptly offer and provide things of value, including money, meals, trips and entertainment to federal public officials in return for agreements to perform official acts benefitting Scanlon, Lobbyist A, and their clients."

Note the plural with respect to "federal public officials." One member of the House of Representatives, widely believed to be Robert Ney, an Ohio Republican, is specifically singled out in the filing, though only under the pseudonym "Representative #1." Ney is known to have attended the infamous golf trip to Scotland in 2002 that was paid for by Abramoff. But Abramoff's net spread very, very wide. As legislators prepare to split town for Thanksgiving, one wonders how many of them are going to have a happy holiday.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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