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Abramoff Scandal
Bush, lawmakers get rid of Abramoff-linked donations

President Bush is getting rid of $6,000 in campaign contributions linked to Jack Abramoff, just weeks after he tried to downplay the Republican Party's ties to the disgraced lobbyist.

The Republican National Committee said it would donate money Bush had received from Abramoff, his wife and the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, one of Abramoff's former clients. The checks are going to the American Heart Association.

The move comes after Bush defended his party amid a widening corruption scandal that threatens several top GOP leaders. In a December 14 interview on Fox News, he suggested that Democrats benefited from Abramoff's largesse just as much as his fellow party members.

"But it seems like to me that he was an equal money dispenser, that he was giving money to people in both political parties," the president said of Abramoff.

Now that Abramoff has pleaded guilty in two separate cases and has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors as they pursue the corruption probe, Bush and politicians of both parties are rushing to return or donate the money they received from the former lobbyist.

For Bush and other Republicans, that is a difficult task. While Abramoff and his former clients indeed spread the money around, the vast majority of the cash went to the GOP interests, according to analyses by news organizations and watchdog groups.

Republican politicians and political action committees received 63.7 percent of the $5.3 million in contributions made by Abramoff's former tribal clients and associates from 1999 through 2004, The Washington Post reported. A review by Bloomberg News found that Abramoff gave all of his money to Republicans -- but none to Democrats -- between 2001 and 2004.

Abramoff also belonged to the exclusive "Pioneer" club for raising more than $100,000 for Bush's reelection campaign in 2004. Abramoff's Republican allies include Ralph Reed, who chaired Bush's campaign for the Southeast region, and Grover Norquist, another Bush supporter who runs Americans for Tax Reform, a prominent conservative group.

Like other Republicans, Reed and Norquist accepted millions from Abramoff's tribal clients but have not said whether they would return the money.

According to the Associated Press, dozens of members of both political parties are giving money back to the tribes or to charity. In making the returns, the lawmakers said the donations had been properly reported to the Federal Elections Commission. Non-profits, or grassroots groups, are not required to disclose their donors.

Some of the returned donations included:

• Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), $15,000 to charities
• Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenessee), $2,000 to the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe
• Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), $4,000 to three tribes
• Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota), $2,000 to the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society
• Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), $8,250 to Running Strong for American Indian Youth
• Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-Illinois), $2,000 to Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
• Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), $500 to the Tigua Tribe
• Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana), nearly $19,000 to Montana's seven tribal colleges
• Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Montana), about $150,000 to Native American charities and refunded to tribes
• Sen. Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), $3,750 to North Dakota's tribal colleges
• Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), $1,000 to the American Indian College Fund

Abramoff Plea Documents:
US v. Abramoff | Abramoff Plea Agreement | Department of Justice Press Conference

November 17, 2005, Hearing:
Video | Exhibits

November 2, 2005, Hearing:
Video | Exhibits | Witness List / Testimony

June 22, 2005, Hearing:
Video | Exhibits 1 | Exhibits 2 | Witness List / Testimony

November 17, 2004 Hearing:
Video | Exhibits | Witness List / Testimony

September 29, 2004 Hearing:
Video | Exhibits | Witness List / Testimony