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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

2006 Senate: Conrad Burns' scandal hurts re-election

Posted by Bob Brigham

From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:

State Democrats are demanding Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., return $137,000 in campaign contributions connected to a lobbyist now under investigation for allegedly buying favors from lawmakers.

The charge came the same day that a Washington D.C. newspaper reported that Burns had hired a GOP lawyer to mount a legal defense to clear his name. [...]

Burns has received $137,000 in campaign contributions from Abramoff and his tribal clients, the Post reported. Also under scrutiny is a 2001 trip to the Super Bowl for two Burns staffers that may have been paid for by Abramoff.

$137,000 and Super Bowl Tickets? Yes, Conrad Burns is a key figure in multiple corruption investigations. Remember, Conrad Burns almost lost in 2000 and is rumored to be retiring to work as a lobbyist (for Abramoff????????).

The Washington Post reported in early March that Burns had diverted a $3 million grant meant for impoverished Indian schools to the Saginaw Chippewas in Michigan, one of the richest tribes in the nation.

The tribe was a client of GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is under investigation by the FBI and Congress for allegedly buying legislative favors with campaign contributions and bribing Congressional aides.

Senator Burns needs to give back the dirty money.

Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Brad Martin said Monday Burns' acknowledgement of Abramoff's actions should be justification enough to return the money.

"That alone should give him pause about whether that money should spend another minute in his bank account," he said.

But that money is no longer around to give back, Burns' spokesman J.P. Donovan said.

"It's all spent," he said.

Whoops, Burns spend the dirty money. Too bad, because now Burns needs a ton of money to pay big-shot lawyers for his legal defense:

Also on Monday, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported that Burns had hired GOP lawyer Cleta Mitchell to oversee his legal defense as questions were raised about his connections to Abramoff.

Donovan said Mitchell was brought in as an outside observer to deal with some of the ethics allegations made against him. She is not part of any legal defense, he insisted.

Martin was a bit more skeptical.

"You don't hire someone like Cleta Mitchell if you got a press problem," he said.

Posted at 02:49 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Montana | Technorati