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Abramoff Plea May Rock GOP Boat

“I plead guilty, your honor,” Abramoff said in flat, unemotional tones to the judge. Bahahahahahahahaha.

That’s the AP headline for Tom Raum‘s piece. Tom DeLay’s best buddy and influence peddler copped a plea, is spilling the beans, and a helluva long list of Repugs — and maybe a few Dems — are going to go down.

The GOP has more seats to lose and has closer ties with the former lobbyist. But some Democrats with links to Abramoff and his associates are also expected to be snagged in the influence-peddling net. While the full dimensions of the corruption probe are not yet clear, some political consultants and analysts are already comparing its damage potential to the 1992 House banking scandal that led to the retirement or ouster of 77 lawmakers.

You don’t have to be a political genius to sniff the smell of blood in the water,” said GOP consultant Rich Galen.

Galen said even lawmakers in seemingly safe districts, and those “who don’t have a reputation for being fast and loose with the rules,” could be vulnerable if voters rise up in reproach “and everybody drops five or six points” in this year’s midterm contests.

Abramoff, a former $100,000-plus fundraiser for President Bush with close ties to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud. That cleared the way for his cooperation with federal prosecutors in bringing charges against former business and political associates.

The investigation is believed to involve up to 20 members of Congress and aides and possibly several administration officials.

…”Most seats in Congress are relatively safe this year. But they are not safe from a tsunami,” said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, author of a book on political scandals. “Iraq, plus economic problems, plus these scandals, could produce a tsunami. That’s what every incumbent on Capitol Hill has to fear.”

In one case, reported in another AP story, Abramoff paid $50,000 to the wife of a congressional aide to help block legislation for a client. The aide worked for Bug Man DeLay.

For the web of entanglements, check out Think Progress’s Abramoff primer, The House That Jack Built

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding