The Jack Abramoff scandal has hit home to Colorado. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave announced today she will donate $1,000 she received from Jack Abramoff’s wife to charity.
Sen. Wayne Allard, who received $4,000 from two Indian tribes represented by Abramoff, is keeping the money.
“I think what’s going on here is guilt by association,” said Allard’s chief of staff Sean Conway. “This money didn’t come from Abramoff himself. We haven’t had any contact with him.”
The question here is whether either of them took money in exchange for supporting the donor’s legislative cause. If they did, it’s a crime, regardless of whether they give the money back. If they didn’t, there’s no reason to give the money back. Accepting campaign contributions from a lobbyist per se is not against the law.
If Abramoff’s wife gave money to Musgrave so she’d vote a certain way or persuade other elected officials to support an Abramoff cause, and she later followed through, then it’s a crime. If she didn’t, there’s no reason for her to donate the money to charity.
If Allard accepted the money from the tribes and then because of it, voted to support legislation that helped the tribes, that’s wrong, whether it came from the tribes or Abramoff.
I would be more interested in hearing both of them deny they were influenced by the donations they received rather than make an unnecesary gesture or hair-split over who wrote the check.