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Friday, October 07, 2005

MT-Sen: Conrad Burns Denies Being Corrupt

Posted by Bob Brigham

Montana Senator Conrad Burns is a key figure in multiple investigations (FBI, Justice Department, and the Interior Department Inspector General), the scandals are hurting his re-election chances, and even Karl Rove is worried.

Burns first ran a campaign against Washington politicians, vowing to only serve to terms so he wouldn't become corrupted by Washington politics. But Burns loved Washington politics so he broke his word to the voters and ran for a third term. Now, even though his is up to his cowboy hat in corruption, he is running for his fourth term. And it is playing out in the Montana newspapers.

Today, Conrad Burns had an op-ed distancing himself from his close ties to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and playing himself off as a victim. He even goes so far as to say:

They have declared me guilty of ethics violations. Absolutely not true. I am not under any investigation, nor have I been.

That is the type of spin you would expect from somebody who has been in DC for too long. As a Swing State Project reader notes in an email:

The Senate Ethics Committee was asked to investigate these claims by Montana Democratic Party Chairman Bob Ream. The Ethics Committee does not comment on ongoing investigation, therefore Sen. Burns cannot honestly say that he knows he is not under investigation. However, this is what we do know:
• The Senate Gifts Rule restricts gifts from lobbyists. Members, officers, and employees of the Senate may not accept “gifts of personal hospitality” from registered lobbyists. Jack Abramoff was a registered lobbyist. As a result, neither Sen. Burns nor any member of his staff was permitted to accept reimbursement for travel expenses from Mr. Abramoff. [Senate Ethics Manual, ch.2, p. 43]
• Members and staff of the Senate are only permitted to accept reimbursement for officially related travel. “Reimbursement for necessary expenses for events which are substantially recreational in nature, however, is not considered to be ‘in connection with the duties of a Member, officer or employee . . . and will not be allowed.’” As examples of travel that may not be accepted, the Senate Ethics Manual includes “charity golf, tennis, fishing, or ski tournaments.” It is extremely difficult to believe that a trip to the Super Bowl with a side trip to a gambling ship wouldn’t fall into the same category. [Rule 35, Senate Ethics Manual, p. 44.]

Burns can play himself off as the victim, but Montanans know Senator Burns is crooked. Montana voters are the victims, the taxpayers are the victim, good government is the victim. Burns is so out of touch, you would think he has been in DC for 17 years. Wait, he has. And during that time, he has become exactly what he campaigned against when he first ran in 1988.

Posted at 12:40 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Culture of Corruption, Montana, Republicans, Scandals | Technorati

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Bob, here is an aspect of the Senate race we can agree on!

Posted by: Andy_Duphrane [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 7, 2005 04:35 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment