Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sweeney Donates Abramoff Money to Charity

Newsday: "

After guilty plea, New York lawmakers return contributions


Associated Press Writer

January 4, 2006, 5:57 PM EST

WASHINGTON -- Several New York lawmakers decided Wednesday to give up political donations from Indian tribes linked to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, now at the center of a burgeoning congressional corruption probe.

There have been no New York members of Congress implicated in any wrongdoing. Still, several are getting rid of donations from tribes that were Abramoff clients to avoid any association with the scandal.

Rep. John Sweeney, for instance, will give up $2,000 donated by an Indian tribe for the 2002 election. Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, will give the money to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, said his spokeswoman Melissa Carlson.

Carlson said the contributions 'were legally accepted and fully reported. But in light of Abramoff's guilty plea concerning the lobbyist's deplorable activities, the congressman has decided that the best course of action is to donate the $2,000.'

Late Wednesday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign announced she also would return $2,000 in donations from tribes that were Abramoff clients.

'To ensure that there is no question of any connection with Mr. Abramoff, Friends of Hillary will contribute the total of $2,000 to a New York charity,' Clinton spokeswoman Ann Lewis said in a statement.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Westchester, also received a total of $2,000 from Abramoff client tribes for the 2004 election cycle. Her spokeswoman said that money will be returned.

But Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of Harlem, the New Yorker who received the largest amount from Abramoff clients at $36,000, intends to keep the money and a Rangel spokesman said Wednesday that Abramoff's guilty pleas do not affect the congressman's decision.

Abramoff, 46, pleaded guilty in Miami federal court Wednesday to conspiracy and wire fraud stemming from his 2000 purchase of a gambling boat fleet. A day earlier, he was in a Washington courtroom pleading guilty to three other federal charges as part of a deal with prosecutors to cooperate in a corruption investigation into members of Congress.

The wide-ranging corruption probe involving Abramoff could involve up to 20 members of Congress and aides, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

Many members of Congress were re-evaluating their contributions in wake of both Abramoff's guilty pleas and a decision by the Bush-Cheney campaign Wednesday to give up some donations from Abramoff, his wife, and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. Each gave the campaign $2,000.

Democrat Eliot Engel, whose district includes the Bronx and its northern suburbs, plans to return a $1,000 donation from the Saginaw Chippewa tribe.

'Congressman Engel is happy to send the money back because he doesn't want there to be any issue of impropriety,' said his spokeswoman Rebecca Gale, adding the congressman and the tribe shared concerns about rural health issues.

Aides to Rep. Thomas Reynolds, a powerful Republican who leads House GOP fundraising efforts, defended $7,000 in contributions from Abramoff client tribes to his political action committee.

'Tribes across the country have become more politically active over the past several years; and, like any other group, they are free to participate in the political process as they see fit _ as long as it's done in accordance with the law,' said Bill Oorbeek, executive director of Reynolds' PAC."

There are no indian reservations in Sweeney's District. Why would he accept any money from Abramoff or his clients?


Blogger PCS said...

Too bad he didn't donate the money to Trudeau Institute in Northern NY. He probably doesn't even know the Trudeau Institue exists.

7:13 PM  

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