We don't often look to the National Review as a place where truth is spoken to power, but NR editor Rich Lowry is out with a column today in which he puts the lie to GOP claims that the Jack Abramoff scandal is somehow an equal-opportunity, bipartisan affair.
"It is true that any Washington influence peddler is going to spread cash and favors as widely as possible, and 210 members of Congress have received Abramoff-connected dollars," Lowry writes. "But this is, in its essence, a Republican scandal, and any attempt to portray it otherwise is a misdirection. Abramoff is a Republican who worked closely with two of the country's most prominent conservative activists, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. Top aides to the most important Republican in Congress, Tom DeLay, were party to his sleazy schemes. The only people referred to directly in Abramoff's recent plea agreement are a Republican congressmen and two former Republican congressional aides. The GOP members can make a case that the scandal reflects more the way Washington works than the unique perfidy of their party, but even this is self-defeating, since Republicans run Washington."
Republicans do run Washington, and one of the Republicans who ran the Republicans who run Washington was -- until very recently, at least -- DeLay. And the Associated Press is up with a story now that wraps a bit of a bow around DeLay, Abramoff, the investigation that continues in Washington and the criminal case pending against DeLay in Texas. According to the AP, DeLay wrote a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2001 in which he urged Ashcroft to shut down an Indian casino operating near Houston. DeLay wrote the letter just after one of Abramoff's clients wrote a $1,000 check to Texans for a Republican Majority, the DeLay PAC that is at the center of the money-laundering charges against DeLay in Texas. At the time, the AP says, Abramoff was working on behalf of a Louisiana Indian tribe that saw the Houston-area casino as a threat to its own gambling aspirations.