Per Newsweek, "Press Secretary Scott McClellan refuses to detail what he calls Abramoff’s 'staff-level meetings' at the White House. McClellan concedes that Abramoff had 'more a casual relationship than a business relationship' with one Karl Rove, the president’s uber-strategist. "
This latest evidence of grotesque Bush Administration corruptness adds to the credibility of a letter I received today from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid....
I have been in public service for over 40 years and never been as disillusioned as I am today. In 1977, I was appointed chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission. It was a difficult time for the gaming industry and Las Vegas, which were being overrun by organized crime.
During the next few years, there would be threats on my life, FBI stings and even a car bomb placed in my family's station wagon. What is happening today in Washington is every bit as corrupt as when Las Vegas was run by the mob, but the consequences for our country are worse.
These Republicans have created the most corrupt government in our history. Their "K Street Project" is a shakedown machine that would make the mafia blush. We cleaned up Las Vegas, and we will clean up Washington DC.
Today, Democrats from Howard Dean in Ohio to Nancy Pelosi and me in Washington are declaring our commitment to a government as good and honest as the people it serves. To achieve that vision, this morning we introduced the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act. Our tough, real reforms go beyond the public relations fixes Republicans suggest.
For example, a key proposal in the Act, known as "The Jack Abramoff Rule", will ban staff and members from receiving gifts, meals and travel from lobbyists. This is not just about talking the talk; we are going to walk the walk, right now. Last night I told my staff that even though this bill is not yet law, our office will follow its provisions starting today. I am going to lead by example, and I challenge George Bush to do the same.
Join me, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and hundreds of Democratic elected officials from around the country by signing the Honest Leadership Pledge. Our goal is to have one million Americans join us in this commitment to honest government:
We are seeing what happens when lawmakers and lobbyists conspire to put the needs of special interests before the needs of the American people. Democrats will put a stop to the culture of corruption -- period....
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats today announced the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, a comprehensive government reform plan that "will clean up and protect the government from the Republican culture of corruption and quid pro quo politics. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act offers the following reforms:
The Jack Abramoff Reform: Fix the gift and travel rules that allowed Republican lobbyists to buy influence in Congress.
The Ralph Reed Reform: Increase transparency and accountability in government: holding Members of Congress accountable to ethics rules and allowing the public to see exactly what their elected representatives are doing in Washington.
The Tony Rudy Reform: Close the revolving door between government and K Street lobbying firms by strengthening the ban on lobbying by former Members of Congress and senior government officials after they leave to work in the private sector. "
For more details on the stringent ethical reforms proposed today by Senate Democrats, read this release by Senator Harry Reid's office. Also read about it at Democrats Unveil their Own Plan for Rules on Lobbying in the New York Times.