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I have a surplus against my diary quota, so I'm gonna pull a comment I buried in the front page story, "Mr. DeLay's 'Meal is to be comped'" out for a diary of its own. It's something I think we should pay a little extra attention to.

Signatures, I predict, will become a major hub in the Abramoff investigation, and it will be the link to ethics violations by literally dozens of House Republicans.

It was more than just a fancy restaurant where Abramoff wined and dined powerful Members of Congress free of charge, it was part of a vertically integrated front operation for political money laundering.

Abramoff's operation, including Signatures restaurant, its sister outlet -- Stackers Deli -- and his several luxury skyboxes at the MCI Center, FedEx Field and Camden Yards, were used routinely to launder tribal money and help Members evade campaign finance laws and House disclosure requirements.

Abramoff would talk his tribal clients into "sponsoring" a fundraiser for some Member he wanted to get close to, and would then "lease" a skybox, or a room at Signatures, to them for use for the event -- at inflated prices, no doubt. The tribe would be billed for the lease, for the cost of invitations, etc., and for catering. The Member shows up, having done none of the work of preparing the event, collects checks from lobbyists who dine on free food and maybe catch a show or a game, and the bill goes to the event "sponsor," an Abramoff client, who pays... Abramoff, for the use of the facilities. AND, in many cases, I'd wager, for the catering, provided by either Signatures and/or Stackers.

Members of Congress conveniently forget to declare the in-kind contribution for the events, Signatures conveniently forgets to bill them for the food, and that's that. They get away with thousands of dollars worth of checks and no expenses. Abramoff bills the whole thing (plus markup) to his tribal clients, and the Members think they "owe" him for getting them all these checks for "free."

I said a long time ago that the FBI needed to raid Signatures and just mine their "books," such as they may be, for information, and they'd find violations on dozens of Republican House Members. I still think I'm right.

Originally posted to David Waldman on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 06:36 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well, I said it. (4.00)
    I said a long time ago that the FBI needed to raid Signatures

    But I don't remember where. Here? The Stakeholder? It might even have been in a rare visit to Raw Story.

    But go ahead, "google" Signatures and Abramoff. It's already at the center of numerous ethics filing "amendments" by Republican House Members. Keep on it, I say.

    •  thanks, keep on reporting. (4.00)
      These ethical practices are such important indicators of the quality of a representative. If a politician will regularly let ethics take a back burner to special interests, how can he be trusted to legislate according to principles and promises? Unfortunately this "credibility chasm" extends far outside the Republican party, I fear.

      Ethical breaches should be one of the primary political focuses of the media. Not only would such stories be more interesting than the standard repititious gibberish, they would help repair our country, and help encourage political participation. There is nothing more patriotic than exposing those who are abusing our democracy. Keep it up, since no other news outlets seem to want to with any fervor.

    •  man oh man, Kagro X (none)
      what a story!  The connection 'tween these guys & the robber baron/boss tweed/gilded age corruption has become almost a commonplace. But these crooks go further, seems to me.  The gall of it, the sheer unmitigated profligate gall.

      I've been reading your stuff on this closely, usually make do with sprinkling your comments with 4's, but this time just wanted to check in.  Awesome work.  I'm flabberghasted. Man oh man.

    •  I know Abramoff's "exceptional" (none)
      ...even by DC standards, but I have to wonder: is Signatures/Stacks just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this type of practice?

      In other words, is this a common and tacitly accepted means of exchanging valuta between lobbyists and legislators?  Should we be concerned about retaliatory revelations regarding prominent Dems getting entangled in similar situations?

      I see the bipartisan scramble to "come to Jesus" on travel expenses as being a Good Thing no matter what.  I'm just concerned that there may be some tit-for-tat payback on this if Dems are engaged in practices that even slightly resemble this.

      -AG

      I'm a pro-gun, pro-nuclear-power Reform Democrat.
      UUJN: Brother Venerable Katana of Mindful Forgiveness

      by AlphaGeek on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:36:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think this one's pretty solidly Republican. (4.00)
        Abramoff is exceptional in a number of ways, not the least of which is his thoroughgoing lean to the right. His big selling point as a lobbyist, especially to the Indian tribes, was his connection not only to Republicans, but to Republican power brokers in particular.

        For the most part, I don't believe he made a practice of distributing his largesse in a bipartisan fashion, as did lobbyists of yesteryear. He was a Republican through and through, and his spending habits reflect that.

        Are there parallel situations on the Democratic side? None that reach to this level, as far as I know. However, there's certainly some possibility that there are other such operations, say at the Caucus Room restaurant. Even there, though, the ownership is bipartisan (Tommy Boggs and Haley Barbour), so its involvement in a similar scheme would probably not come out so one-sided as this one.

        This particular scandal just has too much going for it. Double billing, campaign finance law and ethics violations, Republican leadership, and of course, the "K Street Project" angle, in which largely Democratic-leaning Indian tribes are muscled into making payoffs to Republican lobbyists just to get attention paid to their claims, which should be a function on non-partisan civil service.

    •  You started (none)
      talking about this in the Next Hurrah:

      http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2005/04/bob_ney_cant_wa.html#more

      This was a particularly good ending line of yours:

      Is this what it's come to in DC? Kickbacks from campaigns to lobbyists? You've got to hand it to Abramoff, though. He's taken vertical integration into new and previously unexploited markets.

      "Tikkun Olam (to heal and repair the world) You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it" Rabbi Tarfun

      by RevDeb on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:45:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Abrahamoff comped meals for Reps (none)
  •  Reco'd (4.00)
    For some reason, I think you're right.

    What I like about it is the hook of it - fat cat GOP, fancy restaurants.

    I have images of bills being sent and torn up. bottles of Kristal ordered for friends and "put it on my tab" being yelled throughout the restaurant.

    And that will attract the Media.

    And then it becomes somrhing else. Your theory is a good one.

    The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

    by Armando on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 06:39:37 AM PDT

    •  AND Restaurants are still one of the (4.00)
      Prefered mechanisms through which criminals lauder money.  Lots of cash expenditures and with Christofle cutlery, porcelaine chargers and fine crystal glassware to constantly "replace" there is no telling how much their monthly inventory bills were for those items.  

      It is my guess they had some extraordinarily "clumsy" dishwashers at Signatures.  A lot of flatware "accidentally" thrown in the garbage.

      I'd be interested to see what kind of political contributions their serviceware providers made just as a start.   There are numerous ways to funnel cash through a restaurant...  that is why they are so popular amongst criminals.

      I wonder if the bartender in Virgina Beach ever worked at Signatures...

      •  Virginia Beach (none)
        What bartender in Virginia Beach?  I live in the next city over (Norfolk), and don't recall anything about that.
        •  Sorry my recollection (none)
          was incorrect.  It was Rehobeth...where the bartender dude was installed as head of the "think tank" the American International Center.

          There are so many odd characters all over the country in this story that frankly it has become a mish-mash in my mind.  Boggles the mind really...

      •  Bartender (none)
        This guy?

        Good question. Very good question.

        •  It was Rehoboth, not Virginia Beach. (4.00)
          But catch this:

          There were phony grass-roots Christian groups. Phony billing statements. Nonprofits with phony purposes. And, perhaps phoniest of all, a "premiere international think tank" called the American International Center, directed by two boyhood friends of Abramoff partner Michael Scanlon: yoga instructor Brian Mann and lifeguard-cum-excavator David Grosh. Mann refused to answer questions, but Grosh, who never consulted a lawyer, was happy to tell his story.

          "I'm embarrassed and disgusted to be a part of this whole thing," Grosh said in his two-sentence statement. "The Lakota Indians have a word, wasichu , which aptly describes all of us right now."

          Grosh didn't say what wasichu means (literally, "he who steals the fat"), and McCain, not being fluent in Lakota, merely thanked Grosh and read from the think tank's self-described mission of "bringing great minds together from all over the globe" under the "high power directorship" of Mann and Grosh -- who now does construction work and tends bar.

          Grosh, with tousled hair and long sideburns, told about a call from Scanlon asking, "Do you want to be head of an international corporation?" That, Grosh added, was "a hard one to turn down." The lifeguard/excavator/bartender had the gallery in stitches, and he wasn't finished. "I asked him what I had to do, and he said 'Nothing.' So that sounded pretty good to me."

          McCain asked if the think tank had any board meetings. "I recall one," the witness replied.

          "And how long did that last?"

          "Fifteen minutes," Grosh estimated.

          "Do you recall any business that was discussed . . .?"

          "Off the top of my head, no."

          The hapless Grosh said he received no more than $2,500 for his troubles, and tickets to a hockey game. "I got out of it when I found out it involved the federal government, Indian tribes and gambling," he said. "I knew that it was headed down the wrong way."

          Tickets to a hockey game. Let me guess: A Capitols game, at the MCI Center, in Suite 204?

          By the way, this reminds me an awful lot of Duke Cunningham's current situation.

          Secreting away lifeguards and yoga instructors in cush jobs based in your beach house? I don't want to open the door to any bashing, but is it PC to ask if anyone's got a good "gaydar" signal on this? The parade of Republican gay-bashers who turn out to be closeted is getting too long to ignore.

          •  And on that note... (4.00)
            Here's a great bit picked up from Roll Call by The Stakeholder:

            Sure, now it's called the "Duke-Stir." But the 42-foot Carver boat - yeah, the one that was raided by federal agents on Friday, a fact first reported by Roll Call -- had a different name when Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) became its unofficial helmsman. The yacht used to be called "Bouy Toy," so named by its former owners, a gay couple, according to sources at the Capitol Yacht Club.

            Apparently, the fellas down at the marina kind of razzed ol' Duke, a former "top gun" fighter pilot, about the gay-themed name. And apparently, Cunningham couldn't take it. He changed the boat's name from the sweet-and-saucy Bouy Toy to the mucho macho Duke-Stir in December 2004, according to Coast Guard records.

            •  He changed the name? (none)
              And it wasn't even his boat?

              I mean, nominally.  Officially.  Legally.

              Not that Wade was going to complain, as long as he was being... uh... remunerated generously.

              "Too many policemen, no liberty; Too many soldiers, no peace; Too many lawyers, no justice." Lin Yutang (1895-1976)

              by ogre on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:30:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  My gaydar ... which is damned reliable ... (none)
            went into overdrive on the day that those guys testified before Congress. They were all very nice looking young men ... in a "manly" way.

            It was powerful enough gaydar for me to to google to see what Abramoff was doing around 1989 when the White House gay prostitute scandal hit the Washington Times. But, alas, in 1989 Jack was out in Hollywood producing Dolph Lundgren movies. LOL!

            You know, the sheer number of closeted or rumored to be closeted gay men in Washington is astounding! It reminds me of the period in the late 70s/early 80s when I was working for a Wall Street Firm and my gay friends would point out all the superrich, super-powerful Wall Street men who were very much in the closet but had lavish and risque lifestyles with their boyfriends.

            Things have changed somewhat for Wall Street. Of those that survived the AIDS crisis, some quietly came out and some are still very closeted even to the point of having an active social life with a "beard" wife. But it's much easier for the younger men to be out and successful these days.

            But I guess, if there's one power place more conservative than Wall Street, it's DC.

            "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

            by Glinda on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 12:53:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What about Michael Scanlon? (none)
              I don't know what kind of information there is on him, but if I read the article right, it was Scanlon who actually set these guys up.
              •  He is a cipher (none)
                But also very pretty. I can find little on him that does not include a pairing of his name with Abramoff's.

                It's interesting that Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed and Abramoff have been very close since they met while working for the College Republicans in the 80s. That Norquist is gay is an open secret in gay circles. A more whispered secret is that Ralph Reed    is strongly suspected of being gay but I can't confirm this as I only get my gossip in NYC gay circles.

                "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

                by Glinda on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 05:37:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Easier to zone than a strip club (n/t) (none)
    •  Agreed (4.00)
      "What I like about it is the hook of it - fat cat GOP, fancy restaurants."

      It's a nice simple narrative which flies in the face of their poor, simple Christians from the heartland routine.  

      These guys are the inside-the-Beltway version of the Sopranos, living high on the hog with their ill-gotten gain.  (Although the Sopranos have more style, and I'm guessing better taste in food.)

      •  Good point. (3.50)
        Excellent point, in fact.

        Because the image of fat cat elitists wallowing in fine cuisine and drinking expensive wine is precisely what these dung beatles have been trying to tack onto the Democratic party.  Finding that the GOP's leadership's been there, doing it, while pointing the finger at others--and doing it on someone else's tab (selling their consitituents out...) is not going to play well.

        Photos and images of the menu, descriptions of the dishes and the drinks and the PRICES... and the fact that these were all being illegally comped will make middle America reach for their antacids....

        "Too many policemen, no liberty; Too many soldiers, no peace; Too many lawyers, no justice." Lin Yutang (1895-1976)

        by ogre on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:34:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Elitism" (none)
          As Thomas Frank (available on line) so trenchantly wrote in the New York Review of Books in May, the big successful repub "frame" against all liberals is that they're "elitist."

          Somehow, the "fat cat" Republicans always get a pass on this because their flacks are so good at invoking cultural symbols of "effete liberals" as opposed to their own swaggering, bullying "working guy" selves.

          Good to have a chance to turn the tables on the elitism meme.

    •  Plus, it's a fusion place (none)
      Take a look at the menu.  It's not even a Morton's or Palm knockoff.

      I guess that not even Tom DeLay believes the USDOA about the safety of factory farmed meat.  The GOP guys skipping the rib eye for the cashew-crusted organic chicken breast or the spice burnt waluu is a little funny.  Do say that when they talk up trailer park culture?

      If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

      by theran on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:59:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Recommended (4.00)
    This should be at the top of rec' list.  Too many people are experiencing "scandal fatigue" in the Delay situation, and aren't truly focusing on how significant this new revelation truly is.

    Will Delay and Rove be sharing a jail cell soon?

  •  Camden Yards (4.00)
    has a no scalp zone. I know they rent out the skyboxes during non-game events... but my guess is that it could be illegal for them to rent them out for profit during games. Angelos pretty much controls what goes on outside of the stadium. Wouldn't it be nice if we could get our hands on those receipts.

    With a big ol' lie And a flag and a pie And a mom and a bible Most folks are just liable To buy any line Any place, any time ~ FZ

    by f furney on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 06:47:37 AM PDT

  •  Where you said it before (none)
    This might be a good place to start.

    It doesn't matter where you said it, or even who said it. What matters is that people keep talking about it until someone in authority takes action on it. Thanks for doing just that.

    I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!

    by wanderindiana on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 06:49:50 AM PDT

  •  Thank God at least one of us has a brain! (none)
    Thank you, wanderindiana!

    To save you the struggle of clicking on that mouse (even though it would increase traffic to TNH), I offer you the text behind that link:

    (for links to the articles quoted, please visit TNH and read the story there -- it's fully linked)

    April 20, 2005
    Bob Ney can't wash off the Abramoff stink.

    by Kagro X

    This morning's Stakeholder (man, I'm loving that blog -- even without comments) sticks it to Bob Ney (R-OH) once again, noting a Roll Call (subscription only) report entitled, "Ney Omitted '03 Tribal Donation":

        House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) failed to declare that an American Indian tribe hosted a February 2003 fundraising event for his re-election campaign, a potential violation of federal election law. Ney's campaign scrambled to correct the omission this week. Ney held a fundraiser on Feb. 4, 2003, in a luxury suite at the MCI Center leased to the Morongo Band of Mission Indians of Banning, Calif. Ney's re-election committee never reimbursed the tribe for the cost of hosting the event, as is required by law.

    No biggie, though, right?

    After all:

        "This is nothing more than an honest mistake," said Brian Walsh, Ney's spokesman. "It has just been discovered."

    But is that all it is?

        Ney has already attracted scrutiny for his relationship with former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and American Indian tribes.

    How anxious would you be to make sure every detail of your fundraising deals with Indian tribes were accurately reported, in this atmosphere? Well, probably a lot less so if you think people also remember this Washington Post story:

        For most politicians, fundraising is a dreaded chore. But until recently, Rep. John T. Doolittle of California and other members of the House Republican leadership had adopted a painless solution: fundraising events in luxury sports boxes leased largely with the money of Indian gaming tribes, where supporters snacked on catered fare in plush surroundings as they watched the Wizards, Caps, Redskins or Orioles.

        Doolitle, a Mormon, is an ardent opponent of casino gambling, so it is somewhat ironic that he would invite supporters to watch the Wizards play the Sacramento Kings from an MCI Center suite paid for by casino-rich Indian tribes. But the plaque at the door to Suite 204 did not say Chitimacha or Choctaw. It said "Jack Abramoff," a name synonymous with largesse and influence in the GOP-controlled Congress

    So how about it, Bob? Was that '03 bash in Suite 204? Inquiring minds want to know. And one day soon, they may be able to find out. The WaPo continues:

        A list of skybox fundraising events maintained by Abramoff at his former law firm, Greenberg Traurig, lists 72 events for members of Congress between 1999 and 2003. All but eight were put on for Republicans, many of them members of the House leadership. Some of the fundraising events, including Doolittle's, were not reported as required under federal election laws.

    Even if Senator McCain's not interested, the Indian tribes should be. Is Abramoff taking additional profits from leasing his suites at FedEx Field, the MCI Center, and Camden Yards to his clients, who in turn are supposed to be reimbursed by the campaigns for which they sponsor fundraisers?

    If that's not enough to set the tribes off, how about this scheme, again from the Post?

        A few blocks from MCI Center, Abramoff also wined and dined politicians and their aides at Signatures, his expensive Pennsylvania Avenue restaurant, billing tribal clients for hundreds of thousands of dollars in meals there, sources familiar with the billings said. The Agua Caliente tribe of California, for example, paid Greenberg Traurig as much as $20,000 a month in lobbyists' expenses, much of it for meals at Signatures, a person who has examined the bills said. In some months the tribe was billed for more than 20 luncheon and dinner events.

    Is this what it's come to in DC? Kickbacks from campaigns to lobbyists? You've got to hand it to Abramoff, though. He's taken vertical integration into new and previously unexploited markets.

    Additional note: Raw Story says Abramoff can bilk you at lunch, too, as the owner of Stacks kosher deli, which apparently shared a kitchen with Signatures (originally named Archives in its pre-opening phase). Or at least, he once could. The Forward story that RS cites is going on two years old, and the deli has apparently since closed its doors. (To reveal the super secret text in this link, right-click your mouse and scroll over the seemingly empty screen that greets you. Don't ask me why.)

  •  Dems though? (none)
    Playing the devil's advocate for a second,
    the Dems must be playing the same game.
    Both sides are closely held by corporate interests and the campaign funding chase.
    How many would be swept up in this type of payola?
    Maybe not at Signatures but other sky boxes at MCI/Camden...
    Who is their Abramoff-equivalent sugar daddy?
    Are we casting the first stone?
    I bet the magnitude is less but can we put numbers to these things to say we are clean(er)?
    •  Coud be. (4.00)
      But I don't know where to point just yet. And this one has a number of "advantages" over any equivalent Democratic scandal: 1) there's already an ongoing investigation; 2) it involves the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives; 3) it involves fleecing Native Americans -- again; 4) it involves the laundering of gambling money, and; 5) it involves many of the signatories of the "Contract With America," who rode into Washington promising to end exactly this sort of corruption.

      I'd roll the dice on that one.

    •  screw it (4.00)
      If we were to oust every member of congress of both parties in a "throw the rascals out" movement, and take concrete steps to divide the K street lobbyists  and the House of Reps, we'd be making a vast improvement to the system regardless of the political makeup of the replacement congress -- but a reform movement would favor dems strongly anyway.
      •  Throw out all the crooks, DINOs and GOP (4.00)
        Why should anyone tiptoe around DINOs like Lieberman and Biden?  They do the bidding of the banking industry and should go down along with the rest of the Abramoff clients.  The Signatures restaurant scandal is perfect for the simple-minded US media, anyone can understand free meals, "comped" by the crooked Abramoff.

        Abramoff has his hooks into Cowardly Bob Ehrlich, Maryland's governor, and probably plenty of other state lawmakers across the country.  Just unraveling the Abramoff thread will touch many of the Repug elites, but is anyone going to really investigate?

        I see Bush/Rove moving into full cover up mode as these stories gain traction.  Watch for some "Terra Alerts" or even the invasion of Iran if the investigation gets too close to the Bushies.

        Support our Troops- Impeach Bush

    •  Money goes to power, and the GOP is holding ... (none)
      ... collecting bucket, at the moment. They are the ones those asking for favors would like to dance with, and the likelihood is therefore great that a majority of those on the take are GOP operatives and representatives...

      "I don't do quagmires, and my boss doesn't do nuance."

      by SteinL on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:21:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sure they are (none)
      But if there's anything I've learned over the past year, the Democrats, as a whole, are completely inept compared to the Republicans when it comes to organization.  I have no doubt that the Democrats are siphoning money from the public sector into their own pockets, it's what people in power do.

      But the Republicans here have taken it to a whole new level.  It's like the mafia sweeping into town, running over the little street gangs that have been nickle and diming the 'hood for decades.  This new crew of Republicans have organized & expanded the corruption to unheard of heights.

      I'd love to see their rise cause the downfall of all types of government corruption, on both sides of the aisle.  Get that broom of reform into the halls of D.C.

  •  It can't hurt that it has a name like a strip club (4.00)
  •  I know 2 things deep in my bones... (4.00)
    1  -  "It's the corruption, stupid!" is a meme that can win us back the house in 06 if we're brave enought to use it.

    2 - as a former server who has seen a few meals comped for VIP and FOO (friends of owner) guests, I can tell you that some folks tip lavishly when their meal is free, while others see it as an excuse not to tip at all.  I'm betting the pot that the Hammer is in category number two.

  •  I like the staff angle (4.00)
    looks like there are some disgruntled former employees who may have a lot to say.  People who wait tables in restaurants know so very much, some times.

    another nice twist.  Some of these guys who received a lot of comp meals from abramoff have to claim they were in the "gifts from friends" exception -- like Dana Rohrback does in the times story.  So while most of Washington runs from Abramoff, Rohrbach has to say -- "he was my friend he was my friend."  Don't know that amounts to much, but I like the discomfort.  

  •  Signatures and Stackers (none)
    Aren't both those names also terms from lobbying and/or fundraising?  Or am I thinking of "bundling" rather than "stacking"?
  •  I like the angle... (4.00)
    ...about removing all the other tables.  The DeLays, you see, don't dine with the unwashed.

    Who the fuck does this guy think he is, the Queen Fucking Mother?  Yes, in fact, he does.  I'd be willing to bet it's been years since he's shaken the hand of an everyday voter who was not a big donor or potential big donor.

    "The American people will trust the Democratic Party to defend America when they believe that Democrats will defend other Democrats." Wesley Clark

    by The Termite on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 08:19:52 AM PDT

    •  DeLay is slime, others should be glad . . . (none)
      . . to be moved away from the slimy hammer's table.  

      Does your "Termite" name mean that you were attacked by the Exterminator?  Time for revenge on the evil DeLay.  This simple theme may even be suitable for TEE VEE coverage, I'll write the message for the TV talking heads:

      Tom DeLay has been accused of accepting free meals at crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff's Signature's restaurant.  Mr. Abramoff instructed his staff to "comp" the DeLay's meal and also moved other tables away so the DeLays could dine in regal isolation.  In other news, Bush says that "the Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes."

      •  Origin of the name... (none)
        ...is not DeLay related.  Good guess, though!

        "The American people will trust the Democratic Party to defend America when they believe that Democrats will defend other Democrats." Wesley Clark

        by The Termite on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:11:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  another angle (none)
      not so much about the unwashed, if you're referring to this:
      Though some former employees described Mr. Abramoff as detached when it came to the details of restaurant operation, many others said he was engaged in the matters that concerned him. He instructed the staff about who could sit within earshot of him, for example, one former employee said.

      And when the restaurant was opening, some workers said, he and his family were involved in everything from the menu to the décor. The walls were lined with signed historic documents - hence the restaurant's name - including a copy of former President Richard Nixon's pardon that later sold for almost $5,000.


      gotta love the nixon pardon element, too.  how much you wanna bet abramoff and delay would point to that and say "there's a get-out-of-jail-free card right there"?

      that's where this brazen criminality in the GOP started. with the idea that a republican president could give you a free pass on crimes as yet unspecified.

      l'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers

      by zeke L on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 04:36:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've been to Signatures (4.00)
    I worked a couple blocks from there when I was a consumer protection attorney at the Federal Trade Commission and used to go the to sit outside at the tables in the evenings with friends.  

    Then one night there was a group of well-healed types at the next table who made a toast to Signatures becoming "the GOP hotspot." That was sometime in 2002 (I think).  I forget exactly when, but I haven't been back sine.

  •  Related stories (none)
    On the day that Times published the Signatures story, they also published one about the House Resources Committee sending a letter to the Justice Department saying Justice should investigate Abramoff. It is the first time a House committee has recommended an investigation and the Republican head of that committee is Richard Pombo of California, who is in heavy with DeLay. See my diary to further connect the dots

    Ask Republicans to turn in their yellow ribbons and join the Army. That would really be supporting the troops.

    by makemefree on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:58:23 AM PDT

    •  Hard to say (none)
      They may well think that they can dump the whole thing on Abramoff.  Like you say in your diary, they may think that the Justice department will sit on its hands to buy time.

      Then again, maybe other members are starting to look past DeLay.

      In any event, the Democrats will need to do something active to turn any of this into a gain in the House.  Most GOP voters really don't seem to care.

      If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

      by theran on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 12:05:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really? (none)
        Maybe Pombo took such an extreme step because maybe his district is making noise? Especially in the wake of the Duke Stir scandal?

        Ask Republicans to turn in their yellow ribbons and join the Army. That would really be supporting the troops.

        by makemefree on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 01:00:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Got anything specific? (none)
          You haven't presented much of a case.  Defecting from DeLay and the GOP hardly makes a reelection campaign easier.  If dumping DeLay were so easy for Republicans in Congress, they probably would have.

          As it is, the cost of doing that seems high for any particular individual, and the vast majority of GOP voters have clearly indicated that they don't care.

          If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

          by theran on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 01:58:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It's time we cleaned house on this... (none)
    type of practice by lobbyists. And I'm sure we'll snag a few Dems in this dragnet but good riddance. I hate the idea of politicians on the take.

    Based on the NY Times article this morning, it sounds like Abramoff is not alone. Apparently other high-profile lobbyists have part ownership in their favorite watering holes. I can't imagine any other purpose for this other than money laundering. The Mafia has been doing it for years.

    Investigate all of them!

    "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

    by Glinda on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 01:11:51 PM PDT

  •  I'm convinced you are right on the money here..... (none)
    Rightwing-Money-Worshipping-Con's don't spend or use their own money.  They hoard it and pass it on to the next generation to do the same..  I never for one moment believed the right actually raised their huge sums of money through legitimate contributions from THEIR own pockets.  These thugs are worse than the mafia....
  •  Did Abramoff get into the Cosmos Club? (none)
    Recently released e-mails reveal that Abramoff got Rabbi Lapin to pad his resume with bogus backdated awards so that he, Abramoff, could get into the Cosmos Club in D.C.  Anybody know whether Abramoff was actually admitted to the club?
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