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Tilting at Windmills

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March 1, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

JACK ABRAMOFF AND THE GOP....A few weeks ago Greg Sargent wrote a piece in the American Prospect that analyzed the contribution patterns of Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff. One of the conclusions he highlighted was that "donations of Abramoffs tribal clients to Democrats dropped by nine percent after they hired him."

That figure is misleading since the post-Jack period was about half as long as the pre-Jack period, which makes a direct comparison impossible. Because of that, I focused on the annual contribution rate instead, which still shows that Abramoff overwhelmingly directed his contributions to Republicans.

Today, the analyst who originally prepared the raw data, Dwight Morris, weighed in. He agrees that the 9% figure is misleading, but says the numbers still show an extremely clear-cut partisan pattern. His conclusion:

In short, whatever one thinks of the 9 percent figure, these numbers demonstrate the undeniably Republican shift in giving in a far more compelling way. The nature of the giving switched from marginally Democratic to significantly Republican. The data do not show that Abramoff steered no money to Democrats. Congressional testimony from tribal leaders themselves shows that he clearly did so. However, Sargent made no such claim. As his article puts it, a great majority of contributions made by those clients went to Republicans. That was and remains the central point of the piece, and if that did not come through, then hopefully the record has been set straight.

Read Morris's full statement for more. Bottom line: as everyone knows, Abramoff was a lifelong Republican operative and steered the vast bulk of his clients' contributions to Republicans. The minuscule amount of money he steered to Democrats hardly changes that.

Kevin Drum 2:11 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

I noticed Drum didn't run that infamous picture of GW Bush and Abramoff in the same room.

Heh.

Posted by: Paddy Whack on March 1, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, this pretty clearly demonstrates to me that Jack Abrahamoff, lifelong Republican operative, was an equal opportunity giver who "directed" donations to Democrats.

See my evidence:

1. More Donations to Democrats
2. Then Jack Shows up...
3. Less Donations to Democrats

I am the Washington Post ombudsman, and I lead my fellow media members in failing to understand the difference between "more" and "less," as well as the difficult concepts of "before" and "after." I did not watch enough Sesame Street as a child.

Posted by: theorajones on March 1, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

You state,
"The minuscule amount of money he steered to Democrats hardly changes that."

Where is the evidence that he "steered" any money at all to Democrats? Did I miss anything?

Kari

Posted by: Kari on March 1, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Facts can be inconvienient things.

Posted by: craigie on March 1, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Where is the evidence that he "steered" any money at all to Democrats? Did I miss anything?

This link PROVES Abramoff steered money to liberal Democrats Carnahan, Cleland, and Daschle.

Posted by: Al on March 1, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Paddy,

This? http://www.thismodernworld.com/blog/bushab.jpg

Posted by: Matt on March 1, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Pretty funny, theora. But you used too many big words. Please dumb it down to a third-grade level so Deborah can handle it.

Posted by: shortstop on March 1, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Ironic that Abramoff was also profiteering with the Russian Oil Company mafiosos.

It Figures.

The whole "evil empire" biz by Reagan was just a plot to scam the state-owned oil resources away from the Russian people so they could steal more.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 1, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

We have documents to prove that Democrats, too, were the beneficiaries when Abramoff directed his clients to contribute to politicians.

However, we are not going to show you those documents.

Posted by: Brady on March 1, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody wonder why this story is treated as a non event?..... notice that that Israeli sniper school isn't front and center in every news cast?

Isn't an Israeli sniper school TERRORIST by definition?

Anybody around here care that this man was using trival monies to fund Israeli terror?

I didn't think so...

Until we get JEWS out of positions of influence in this country there can be no honest discussion about subjects like this.... jews on the left don't want to hurt jews on the right...

JEWS have enough skin in this game that they protect their own... and party politics dies an unnatural death...

Ethnocentric politics is supposed to be something we abhor -- discourage -- and CONFRONT!

oh... right.... only if its Mormons, Arabs, Blacks, hispanics.... anybody but the fucking jews.

There will be no anti war candidate so long as Jews control the money and megaphones of both parties.

Posted by: Ashley on March 1, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK


KARI: Where is the evidence that he "steered" any money at all to Democrats?

Al's link notwithstanding, there is no evidence. We know that the Indians gave less money to fewer Democrats at Abramoff's direction. But the Indians knew that some Democrats had been especially helpful to them, a fact which they "steered" to Abramoff. Not wanting his scam to fall apart, he almost certainly said something to the effect of, "Okay, okay; give the Dems something. But not as many of them as you used to, and not nearly as much."


Posted by: jayarbee on March 1, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone have a list of which Democrats continued to receive money? And which ones got significantly more?

Were any of them DINOs like Cuellar or Leiberman?

Posted by: zmulls on March 1, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

It's also tricky telling which donations are Abramoff-related because most accounts have just looked at 2 year election cycles, rather than the exact dates that Abramoff was hired/fired.

Here's a wild suggestion that nobody seems to have tried yet: why not call the people who actually made the donations and ask them if the money they gave to Demos was on their own or recommended by Abramoff? Maybe Kevin could try this in his spare time; it's obviously beyond the capabilities of any of the Washington journalists covering the story.

Posted by: Alex F on March 1, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Democrat corruption on The Hill may seem miniscule by comparison with Republican larceny...but it does prevent the Democrats from consistently wresting the higher ethical ground issue for themselves, in the perceptions of the voters. We have to clean house too, with some of our high ranking members before we can make more headway on this issue.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on March 1, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

If donations to Democrats dropped by 9 percent 9adjusted upwards), how does that translate into "miniscule" amounts steered toward Democrats?

Posted by: republicrat on March 1, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

If donations to Democrats dropped by 9 percent 9adjusted upwards), how does that translate into "miniscule" amounts steered toward Democrats? Posted by: republicrat on March 1, 2006 at 3:33 PM

I'm not sure, perhaps Kevin is just trying to be fair and balanced.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 1, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

This link PROVES Abramoff steered money to liberal Democrats Carnahan, Cleland, and Daschle.

Indeed, it proves no such thing, but yours is a common misrepresentation of the WaPo article and the memo it covered. The memo lays out how much each of the named politicians, including Democrats, received in total for the period covered from the tribes, but it does not specify that in all cases, these were directed by Abramoff. Once again, for the short of intellect such as Al and rdw, the memo does nothing to prove that Abramoff directed money from any tribes to Democrats.

As a side question, is there a link to the "Congressional testimony from tribal leaders" that purports to prove that Abramoff was active in directing money to Democrats? That is the first time I've seen that, and I've never seen any interview with any tribal leader confirming this.

Posted by: Nash on March 1, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Wow Steve that nasty man forced those women to babysit for him! Where will it end? Forced at gunpoint I'm sure.

Posted by: Neo on March 1, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK


REPUBLICRAT: If donations to Democrats dropped by 9 percent (adjusted upwards), how does that translate into "miniscule" amounts steered toward Democrats?

I think Dr. Morpheus interpreted your question inversely, sensibly assuming you were asking how a drop in money to Dems could show any steering to them on the part of Abramoff rather than the opposite, ie, away from them. But I think you were actually asking how only a 9% drop could cause what remained to be termed as "miniscule." If so, the following wordy and cumbersome (but apt, I believe) analogy explains it for you:

If you're paying me $1000/mo to babysit your kids and then you marry someone who also has kids, meaning your total babysitting needs will go up, but her spiritual advisor wants her to have her kids and your kids babysat by someone else, but you're happy with me so you keep me on but at fewer hours for a reduced rate, as you and your new wife pay a higher rate and give more hours to the babysitter your new wife's spiritual advisor has advised her to use, the amount of money I receive now, though not greatly less than before, is owing but in miniscule fashion, at best, to any advisement (or steering) from your wife's spiritual advisor.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 1, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

jayarbee, I think I understand your answer. It wasn't the "amount" the democrats received that was miniscule; it was the amount "steered" to democrats by Abramoff that was miniscule.

Posted by: republicrat on March 1, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Not Abramoff, but pretty good; Josh Marshall has today,

9/27/02 - Duke Cunningham's frightened staffers email back and forth, anticipating the return of the "big chinchilla" after he's found out that his beloved defense contractor's programs have been cut. "I'm under my desk ducking and covering" says one.

Minutes later, he returns: "He stormed into his office, pissed, and said he might as well become a Democrat."

Posted by: cld on March 1, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

This link PROVES Abramoff steered money to liberal Democrats Carnahan, Cleland, and Daschle.

Indeed, it proves no such thing, but yours is a common misrepresentation of the WaPo article and the memo it covered. The memo lays out how much each of the named politicians, including Democrats, received in total for the period covered from the tribes, but it does not specify that in all cases, these were directed by Abramoff.

Actually, it does not even do that. This is a link to a fragment of a memo that supposedly Abramoff gave to one tribe, the Louisiana Coushatta. The Post has not released the full memo. Three Democrats' names are legible: Carnahan, Cleland, and Daschle. But no contribution to Carnahan was ever made (it's possible she returned it), there was a contribution to Cleland but for half the amount supposedly "directed" here, and there is a contribution to Daschle, but to the non-federal arm of his political action committee. So he may have recommended that the tribes make certain contributions, but if they didn't make them as recommended, can it possibly be said that Abramoff "directed" anything at all to Democrats?

The first comment on this was right. There is no evidence that Abramoff directed any actual contributions to Democrats.

Posted by: Mark Schmitt on March 1, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

I stand corrected and improved, Mark.

I'd still like an answer to my question about Dwight Morris' striking claim:

The data do not show that Abramoff steered no money to Democrats. Congressional testimony from tribal leaders themselves shows that he clearly did so.

I've not seen any support for this claim. Does such testimony actually exist? I presume that this refers to the McCain hearings, and if so, such a claim would have been treated as a revelation worthy of at least one news cycle. But nada. And if it's true, why are there no interviews with these tribal leaders that make the same claim? Kevin blithely passes on Morris' unsubstantiated claim. Anyone got proof or is this just more WaPo-originated "trust us" hot air?

Posted by: Nash on March 1, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

What jayarbee said.

The available evidence indicates that Abramoff directed Indian tribes to give less money to Democrats. My earlier, harsh criticism of Kevin is that he too readily conceded the frame that Abramoff directed money to Democrats.

Obviously, directing less money at opposition politicians -- while directing tons more to your cronies -- is a strange way of winning influence.

Posted by: Gregory on March 1, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Very good post Kevin.

One of your very best.

Posted by: Armando on March 1, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Abramoff directed the tribes to give less money to democrats not because they are less corrupt. The amounts of directed contributions to the two parties were computed based upon a formula agreed to by both the parties that gave different weights to the recipients according to the political power they had to influence the bills of interest to the Indian tribes. Viewed from this perspective, it appears that Dems are just as corrupt if not more than the Republicans.

Posted by: lib on March 1, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

And a hearty ""Happy Birthday" to Abramoff today as well.

Hey Jack, what did your close friend Tom Delay get you for your birthday?

Posted by: ckelly on March 1, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Viewed from this perspective, it appears that Dems are just as corrupt if not more than the Republicans.

If not more??!! What the fuck?

Lib's perspective...upside down with head firmly planted up the GOP's ass.

Posted by: ckelly on March 1, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

I am the Washington Post ombudsman, and I lead my fellow media members in failing to understand the difference between "more" and "less," as well as the difficult concepts of "before" and "after." I did not watch enough Sesame Street as a child.
--------------------------------------
Yeh mee two i jest call it flip and flop
ne'er was their an honest polytishun

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 1, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

And the GOP has about 9% of its membership that are honest, decent people and about 9% of the words that come out of Bushs piehole are not filthy lies. Enough said. Good God, what a pointless exercise this is! Threaten Abramoff with life in prison like he deserves and well find out for certain just how well Bush and Abramoff knew each other.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 1, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

"The data do not show that Abramoff steered no money to Democrats".
I have not seen a sentence that bad in a long time.

"We're not as bad as the other guys" is not a platform and if you think the voting public is outraged (as much as the minority faction of the minority party is) by this then think again. Government corruption goes back centuries. That being said, whoever gets snared in this investigation does not belong in Washington.

Posted by: Jay on March 1, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Wait 100% less 9% is 91%....
So they were still on the take for 90% of what they used to get?

Why is this marginally Democrat?

Posted by: McA on March 1, 2006 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:
jayarbee, I think I understand your answer. It wasn't the "amount" the democrats received that was miniscule; it was the amount "steered" to democrats by Abramoff that was miniscule.
Posted by: republicrat on Mar 1, 2006 at 4:20 PM

Well, since the argument from the right seems to be that Democrats received favors from Abramoff, too, then it's the amount "steered" that matters. I don't think that Republicans are saying that Democrats are stained by this b/c they received money, period. Rather, they're saying that Democrats are stained by this b/c they got got money from Abramoff. So if Abramoff's presence led to no additional money to Democrats, and in fact led to a reduction, then the argument is false. Right?

McA is, as usual, willfully obtuse...

Posted by: keith on March 2, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

shont dat reely be sumpin like
Abramoff and the Dupe Collage?

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 2, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

So if Abramoff's presence led to no additional money to Democrats, and in fact led to a reduction, then the argument is false. Right?

Posted by: keith on March 2, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

But when you are making Clintonian statements like this, over only 'additional money' by Abramoff being wrong - it doesn't look honest.

Posted by: McA on March 2, 2006 at 5:11 AM | PERMALINK

I guess it all comes down to what the definition of "steered" is right? And they call the republicans dishonest.

Posted by: Jay on March 2, 2006 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

I want to live in Drum's world.

miniscule = millions

That would be the life.

Posted by: Birkel on March 2, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

And they call the republicans dishonest.

Judging from the GOP apologists on these threads, like Jay, c.n., tbrosz, et al, the term is apt.

Posted by: Gregory on March 2, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

OK, I'm putting an end RIGHT NOW to all of these personal attacks, profane statements, and hate speech.

Comments are offically CLOSED. I mean it. Don't make me come over there... I'm talking to YOU, theorajones.

Posted by: Jim Brady on March 2, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK


jay:"We're not as bad as the other guys" is not a platform and if you think the voting public is outraged (as much as the minority faction of the minority party is) by this then think again.


yeah.....we --just-- as bad as the other guys is a much better platform...

lol

Posted by: thisspacevailable on March 2, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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