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Conrad Burns Wins an Award–From Jack Abramoff’s Partner

Congratulations are in order for Senator Conrad Burns, who, though spending federal money like a drunken sailor, has been named the 2006 “Hero of the Taxpayer” by Americans for Tax Reform. He’s so proud of it, that’s he’s listed the award on his campaign web site, despite the fact that the award was presented by one of Jack Abramoff’s closest political allies.

Burns, who endlessly proclaims that he is the victim of a smear campaign by Democrats on the Abramoff issue, says this on his web site:

But there is not one ounce of truth in them, and they will be revealed for the baseless and shameless partisan mudslinging that they are. The Democrats can’t beat me on the issues or on my record of support for Montana, so they have said they will drag me down by hanging Jack Abramoff and his pals around my neck.

Ironic, then, that Burns is willing to accept this award from one such pal, perhaps the most important reason why Abramoff came to have the influence that he did:

Mr. Norquist and Mr. Abramoff resumed working in tandem in 1994, when Mr. Abramoff returned to Washington from a stint in Hollywood as a producer of B movies. The Republicans were newly triumphant, and Mr. Norquist had become close to Newt Gingrich, the House speaker.

“Abramoff would have had no value without Norquist,” said J. Michael Waller, a scholar at the Institute of World Politics who followed the two men at College Republicans. “Norquist was the pivot, he had the speaker of the House as his friend, all the new leadership, all the visionaries for more than a decade.”

That’s right, the candidate trying to convince us that he isn’t crooked is accepting an award from a Jack Abramoff-Grover Norquist money-laundering operation that was used to illegally transfer money from Abramoff clients to ‘grassroots’ conservative political movements:

Among the organizations used by Abramoff was Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. According to an investigative report on Abramoff’s lobbying released last week by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Americans for Tax Reform served as a “conduit” for funds that flowed from Abramoff’s clients to surreptitiously finance grass-roots lobbying campaigns. As the money passed through, Norquist’s organization kept a small cut, e-mails show.

It’s like the man can’t help himself. Burns is to corruption what Jason Klindt is to lies; if one is in the room, you can be certain the other will soon appear. It’s time to elect a Senator who won’t accept awards or money from Jack Abramoff or his friends, and time to send Senator Burns back home to put up that nice plaque as far from the Senate as he can be.

Side Note: Check out this page on Burns’s web page called “The Truth about the Marianas Vote“.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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