The Abramoff mushroom cloud

The sky really may be falling in for Congress.

Michael Scanlon, a Republican political operative, publicist and former press spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, pled guilty November 21 to conspiring with lobbyist Jack Abramoff to bribe a Republican congressman and cheat several American Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars.

By the end of last week, there were press reports that at least four Republican legislators and 17 staffers and former staffers were the targets of the Justice Department investigation into the Abramoff affair.

The Abramoff affair could have much wider implications. A reporter for BusinessWeek, on a television interview program, said that his Justice Department sources had told him that as many as 60 congressmen could be implicated in the bribery scandal. 

Democrats should not start dancing in the streets quite yet.

The coming storm: Jack Abramoff’s bipartisan sleaze

Last week the Associated Press reported that almost three dozen members of Congress moved to halt the construction of a Louisiana Indian casino while they simultaneously collected large donations from Jack Abramoff and his tribal clients. Senator Harry Reid was one of those elected officials.

The article details several more Democrats also involved, ending with "Chances are high that the black cloud engulfing Washington will eventually rain down on both the Republicans and the Democrats."

Also involving Abramoff and the same tribe.

Abramoff sought Bush officials’ aid in indian-tribe fee dispute.

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff sought the help of U.S. Interior Department officials to save the job of an Indian leader under fire for $37 million in fees his tribe paid Abramoff and a partner, according to interviews and e-mails.

Why would a tribe pay that much? What were they expecting back? And where did the money really go?

More on Senators getting "contributions"

This isn’t a case of a few rogues in the house. This is a case of massive and pervasive corruption by politicians who care not a whit about the public they pretend to serve, a kleptocracy of a few getting wealthier by stealing from the rest of us.