AP Distorts Record on Lobby Gifts to Republicans

The Associated Press is very good at what it does. It's just a shame that straight news reporting isn't it.

They've run a piece this morning (Lawmakers Hasten to Return Abramoff Gifts) dealing with lobbyist and equal-opportunity crook Jack Abramoff. Regular AP readers will remember that when Abramoff was indicted back in August the AP story mentioned one congressman by name, Republican Tom Delay, and they mentioned him 5 times. Despite the fact that Abramoff has given money to many congresspeople of both party, the Republican Delay got mentioned, and no one else.

Well, they're at it again. (H/T to Michelle Malkin). Today's AP story makes it seem, again, as if Abramoff gave, or steered, contributions to Republicans, and to Republicans alone. They start with a quote from the President:

This week, President Bush said it seemed to him that Abramoff "was an equal money dispenser, that he was giving money to people in both political parties."
And then immediately go on to present information which seems to contradict him.
Historically, tribal money had been going to Democrats almost exclusively. Abramoff changed that.

The lobbyist ordered one tribal client to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations. A list, obtained by The Associated Press, earmarked $90,000 of the money for the Republican Party, none for Democrats.

Of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Abramoff directed the tribe to donate to congressional campaigns, the Republican-Democrat breakdown was 11-to-1.

Wow! 11-to-1! Boy, those Republicans are dirty, aren't they? But it's only a tiny piece of the story. Go look again. "One tribal client." "Abramof directed the tribe." There's no actual information about what other tribes, or Abramoff clients, may have been giving. And that turns out to be different than 11-to-1.

It was less than two weeks ago that the Washington Post ran this chart outlining the "Team Abramoff" contribution distribution. And it's clear that neither party has clean hands. The Republicans, overall, received about twice what the Democrats did, nothing like 11-1. Of the top 10 recipients, 7 were Republicans and 3 Democrats. Of the top 15, 10 were Republicans and 5 were Democrats. The AP mentions, by name, the following politicians in this story of government corruption:

  • President Bush - Republican
  • Senator Sam Brownback - Republican
  • Senator Conrad Burns - Republican
  • Representative Tom Delay - Republican
  • Representative Bob Ney - Republican
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich - Republican
  • Senator Max Baucus - Democrat
Notice a pattern? None of them are necessarily accused of corruption, and the President and Speaker Gingrich are mentioned in only ancillary fashion, not as having taken Abramoff money, but those are the names in the story about corruption. Seems like a pretty Republican-heavy list. Conrad Burns received the most money from Abramoff clients, but Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-RI, who's second on the list, somehow avoids a mention. Meanwhile, Tom Delay and Bob Ney and Sam Brownback, none of whom received as much as Kennedy, all merit inclusion.

And the one Democrat mentioned, is mentioned in the context of Republican attacks. "In Montana, the state Republican party filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, alleging that Democratic Sen. Max Baucus violated federal campaign finance laws." You see, it's nothing that Baucus did - it's a partisan attack from the Republicans.

One could be forgiven for supposing that the distribution occurs because the Republicans have held power in the Congress, as opposed to some inherent corruption in the Republican Party to which the Democratic Party is not susceptible. One would have to draw that conclusion on one's own, however, as the Associated Press story isn't going to lead anyone in that direction, or even give the whole truth...

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