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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

As Kevin Drum and the L.A. Times have both pointed out today, the Abramoff scandal is pointing big red arrows at a much broader and more politically significant scandal: the conscious, deliberate GOP effort to make corporate lobbyists a cog in the Republican political machine through a crude pay-for-play arrangement known as the K Street Project. The K Street Project, which was basically the product of the evil genius of Grover Norquist (one of Abramoff’s deputies, along with Ralph Reed, in Casino Jack’s salad days with the College Republicans, and a key figure, also along with Reed, in Abramoff’s efforts to launder his tribal-shakedown dollars), has been operationally under the control of Roy Blunt–also known as the Acting Majority Leader of the U.S. House–and Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. That’s why I was fascinated to learn today (in a Byron York report via Matt Yglesias) that Senate Republicans decided a couple of months ago to anticipate the Abramoff fallout by developing a lobbying reform initiative of their own, and delegated this task to none other than Rick Santorum.Now I can certainly understand why Ricky, who’s in an uphill fight for re-election this year against Bob Casey, would want to burnish his non-existent “reform” credentials. But Lord-a-mighty, for this guy to pose as the champion of lobbying reform would be a classic example of a bad guy returning to the scene of the crime. So I say, bring it on, Ricky. Your identification with Republican “lobbying reform” will do wonders for the Democratic effort to connect the dots and explain why the Abramoff scandal is but the tip of the iceburg in the ongoing scandal of the GOP’s descent into corruption and influence-peddling as a way of life.

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