Thursday, December 08, 2005

DeLay: Marianas dealings may be his worst crimes

Jesse Lee at the Stakeholder, via Josh Marshall, links to the Marianas Variety, which reports that the recently-elected head of state has turned state's witness:

Governor-Elect Benigno R. Fitial says he will cooperate with federal authorities in the ongoing investigation of Rep. Tom Delay and former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whom he once described as his “close friends.”

You should go here and read the entire, tangled, complicated thing, but here's the moneyshot:

As Jesse points out, interference by Congress in the internal elections of territories such as the Marianas Islands is illegal. Rep. George Miller (D-CA) took an interest in DeLay's involvement in the Marianas some years ago, and as ranking Democrat on the House Resources Committee repeatedly asked Republican Chairman (and Abramoff implicatee) Richard Pombo to investigate. Pombo stonewalled but eventually co-signed a letter to the Department of Justice asking them to expand the Abramoff probe to include the Marianas Islands. The following excerpt -- one of the letters Miller wrote to Pombo -- summarizes:

I wrote that in 1999, two men associated with then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay - Ed Buckham, a one-time chief of staff who later became the head of ARMPAC, and Mike Scanlon, a DeLay spokesman - were reportedly involved in an effort to influence the election of the Speaker to the CNMI House of Representatives. I have since learned of additional evidence to suggest these two men may have traded political favors to sway the election in favor of a candidate most likely to renew a contract with lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

There's more, naturally.


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