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Plea in DeLay Case Snares Close Confidant

Plea in DeLay Case Snares Close Confidant


By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Report
From: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/033106R.shtml

Friday 31 March 2006

The third significant plea deal in the Abramoff/DeLay bribery scandal was announced today, and the accusations resulting from the deal implicate the man at the very center of Rep. Tom DeLay's brain trust. The plea deal announced today for Tom C. Rudy, DeLay's former deputy chief of staff, names Ed Buckham, DeLay's former chief of staff, as being a central player in the scandal.

Roll Call, which broke this story this afternoon, reports, "Rudy officially accuses Buckham - who is identified as 'Lobbyist B' in the filings - of helping set up $50,000 in payments to Rudy's wife's consulting firm in order to win Rudy's help in killing a bill that would have outlawed Internet gaming. Abramoff at the time was representing Internet gambling clients who wanted to keep the practice legal. While Buckham is not identified in the documents, they leave no doubt that his firm, Alexander Strategy Group, is 'Firm 3.'"

Rudy's plea deal comes on the heels of deals offered to and accepted by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and former DeLay aide Michael Scanlon. More than a dozen GOP House members have become the focus of the widening investigation. The accusations against Buckham bring the scandal within the inner sanctum of DeLay's congressional office and private affairs. Buckham, besides working as DeLay's chief of staff and running DeLay's PAC after leaving his House position, once served as DeLay's minister.

Buckham and Abramoff worked very closely together for years. "Abramoff steered donations from his clients into the coffers of nonprofits run by Buckham, such as the US Family Network," continues the Roll Call report, "and they did work together for some clients." The exposure of Buckham by the Rudy plea deal cuts more deeply into the web of bribery and influence-peddling masterminded by Abramoff.

As of yet, no information is available as to any potential plea offerings to Buckham, and the Rudy plea does not specifically implicate DeLay in wrongdoing. By pleading guilty to three felonies and cooperating with the investigation, Abramoff secured for himself a reduced prison sentence of about 10 years. He must also pay tax penalties, and pay restitution to the clients he defrauded.

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William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

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