Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Abramoff associate sentenced

Monday, February 14th, 2011 by Vbhotla

Michael Scanlon is the latest Abramoff associate sentenced for his role in the corruption scheme.  A district judge sentenced the former House aide to 20 months in federal prison.  Scanlon pleaded guilty in 2005 to conspiracy to bribe public officials and honest-services fraud, which his attorney referred to as “extraordinary cooperation,” when he requested a sentence that did not include jail time.  The district attorney requested two years imprisonment, despite Scanlon’s role in aiding the Department of Justice in 20 Abramoff-related investigations. Scanlon said that he is “so sorry, so very remorseful,” at the sentencing.

Fraser Verruscio, another official on the hot seat because of his connection to Abramoff, was also convicted of one count of conspiring to accept an illegal gratuity, one count of making a false statement in failing to report gifts from lobbyists.  His sentencing is scheduled for May 6, and he could be facing up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each charge.

Weekly News Round-Up

Friday, November 19th, 2010 by Vbhotla

In this, the week of ethical trial decisions, proceedings did not fare well for the defendants.

  • The trial of Kevin Ring, the only Abramoff associate to try his luck in court, came to an end Monday, when a jury found him guilty of five felony counts of corruption.  Ring took eleven congressional aides and Bush administration officials down with him, along with nine others.  
  • Tom DeLay, the former Speaker of the House charged with money laundering and conspiracy, did not take the stand in his own defense before his attorney rested his case.  Though the case is largely circumstantial, several witness testimonies have implicated DeLay as having been involved in, or at minimum knowledgeable about, the transactions.  Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.
  • Rep. Charles Rangle (D-NY) was found guilty of 11 charges, including improperly soliciting lobbying funds and failing to disclose income and assets.
  • Though facing investigation, and not actually on trial, conservative backers of American Principles in Action received negative press for not disclosing funds spent on Latino outreach this past election.  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is concerned that the group may have exploited the Citizens United decision beyond the Court’s initial intent.

Weekly Round-Up: Corrupt Politicians Election Edition

Friday, November 5th, 2010 by Vbhotla

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has identified four Congressmen-elects as “Most Corrupted Members of Congress.”

  • Roy Blunt, the newly-elected Republican Senator from Missouri, accepted over $217,000 in campaign donations from Philip Morris/Altria, where his then-girlfriend Abigail Perlman was working as a lobbyist.  Just before leaving his wife to marry Perlman, Blunt tried to pass a provision to help the company (at the expense of its competitors) in a Homeland Security bill.  He also used his weight to add earmarks to benefit one of his sons in legislation, and secure campaign donations when his second son ran for governor of Missouri, CREW reports.  As if that weren’t enough, He is also accused of being in cahoots with Jack Abramoff.
  • Timothy Griffin (R-Ark.) will take seat in the House of Representatives during the 112th Congress.  CREW accuses him of “Republican vote caging efforts, a legally questionable direct mail campaign to disenfranchise poor, minority, and military voters” during the 2004 presidential election.  He was also appointed U.S. Attorney in Arkansas under a provision of the PATRIOT Act that did not require his appointment to be confirmed by the Senate.  He resigned less than six months later after the House Judiciary Committee began an investigation into appointment and the surrounding politics.
  • Florida voters are sending Marco Rubio (R) to the Senate despite his current implication in a federal criminal investigation into his misuse of state party funds, and admitting to double-billing for personal expenses.  He provided Florida International University with $29m as he prepared to accept a part-time teaching position with the university once he left office.  Sen.-elect Rubio has been caught time and again misappropriating funds and passing legislation benefiting his biggest donors, yet has managed to make it to the U.S. Senate.
  • Allen West (R-Fl.) is a Floridian transport into the House of Representatives.  West formerly served in Iraq as an Army Lt. Col. , until he was “stripped of his command and forced to resign” for excessive interrogation techniques, though interrogations were not part of his job, CREW reports.  Mr. West’s service record let him off with a slap on the wrist, though a military tribunal found him worthy of court marshal.

For Re-Trial Of Ex-Lobbyist, Jurors Questioned on Opinion Of Lobbyists

Friday, August 27th, 2010 by Vbhotla

As former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, who is accused of bribery, moves to the jury selection phase of his

Kevin Ring (Photo credit: National Journal; Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

retrial, federal Judge Ellen Huvelle is asking some interesting questions of prospective jurors.

Though it’s not unusual to ask jurors of their political beliefs should the trial relate to a political matter, in this case the jurors are being asked their opinions of the profession of lobbying as a whole.

Here’s the seven-part question that’s drawing attention:

48. Which of the following, if any, fits with your view of lobbying? Answer either yes or no.

[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is the exercise of the democratic right of American industries, businesses, and individuals to influence lawmaking, government policy and decision making that affects their interests.

[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is influence peddling on behalf of wealthy people or businesses.

[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying, whether on behalf of rich people, the middle class, or poor people, should be prohibited.

[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying can help ensure that government officials make decisions that are in the best interests of the United States.

[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is a fancy term for trying to get government officials to do what the lobbyist wants even if it is not good for the country.

[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is paying off politicians and government officials to get them to do something.

[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is legitimate business.

[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is a necessary part of democratic society based on the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

One wonders if the same would be asked if a truck driver or fire fighter stood accused. (And as a sign of the times, they’re also being asked if they tweet or have a Blackberry).

Blog of Legal Times has the whole questionnaire that jurors were required to fill out, if you’re interested. (PDF) Ring’s trial is expected to last until the end of November.