Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sent out to US Representatives by FAX

Subject: Cops hiring Hit men and the Patriot Act

Human nature is human nature.

When officials are immune from prosecution and can secretly investigate and ruin lives, they do so.

On the local level some very disturbing activities are taking place.

Those that invest in downtown businesses and property are the targets of police for arrests and property confiscation if they aren’t connected to town hall corrupt officials.

Common criminal parasites are a revenue collection aid, so police and the courts treat them accordingly. The sign of a government, local or national, that has grown out of control, is its targeting of productive citizens, intact families, and those that contribute to the system.

Individuals that have expected their tax dollar’s worth or that have lodged complaints have been arrested on false charges, police officers manufacture evidence, perjure themselves, prosecutors, judges, and defense lawyers conspire together and profit.

Will cops hire hit men to cover their tracks when they’re committing crimes? Are productive, honest, taxpaying citizens being thrown in prisons, mental hospitals, threatened, financially ruined, children made to suffer, and are families being broken up as official policy to silence whistleblowers? Well, check out today’s www.freespeech.com

Police drive right on by prostitutes and teen crack cocaine dealers to knock on doors to threaten citizens with felony arrests and to collect overdue library fines.

Connecticut should be writing on the wall for what America can become without check and balances, with a greedy elite that will sell America’s soul and trash humanity in this sick process.

Those that have proposed Civilian Oversight of Police to elected officials get arrested, face prison, and might even have to flee the country to seek political asylum.

Names are named on the website.

Should Connecticut police, officials, and judges be able to break the law at will with no fear of prosecution or even losing their jobs? Should officials in any state? Should the Patriot Act be in place to allow waste, inefficiency, illegal behavior, and covert retaliation for political reasons with the Un-patriotic Patriot Act?

Steven G. Erickson, [address snipped] Email: trvl@hotmail.com , Cell [snipped],
FAX 504-324-0585

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Same Ole Connecticut Sleaze Fest?

From the Hartford Courant:

POLITICS

Rell Balks At Naming Contributors Says She Has Returned Checks From Controversial Fundraiser

December 23, 2005 By JON LENDER, EDMUND H. MAHONY, And MARK PAZNIOKAS Courant Staff Writers

In a reversal from last week, Gov. M. Jodi Rell's campaign said Thursday that it will not publicly disclose the names of contributors to a controversial Dec. 7
fundraiser that led to the suspension of the governor's chief of staff.

"Those contributions will not be reported because they were not deposited," campaign press secretary Rich Harris said. Accordingly, he said, state election law does not require them to be listed on campaign finance reports.

That was a departure from Rell's position on Dec. 14, the day The Courant disclosed that chief of staff M. Lisa Moody had violated Rell's stated policy by giving invitations to the fundraiser to several of Rell's commissioners in the governor's Capitol office suite on state time. Moody reportedly directed the commissioners to pass out the invitations at their agencies, which might violate state law.

The matter is under investigation by criminal authorities and election officials, and Rell has suspended Moody without pay for two weeks.

When the story broke Dec. 14, Judd Everhart, the governor's spokesman, said that Rell would not order her campaign to release the names of the Dec. 7

contributors, but that the names would be listed on a quarterly campaign financing report to be filed Jan. 7.

Harris said Thursday, however, that Rell's decision Dec. 16 to return all of the contributors' checks, uncashed, relieves her of any legal obligation to list the names or contributions on the report to be filed next month with the secretary of the state's office.

Accordingly, Harris said, the Rell campaign will not make the Dec. 7 contributors' names public. In addition to leaving them off next month's campaign report, the campaign continued its refusal to release the names to the press, or even to say how many people had contributed.Harris explained the switch from last week by saying, "At the time, the decision hadn't yet been taken to return the contributions. That was a reasonable expectation at the time - that if the contributions were deposited, they would be reported."

Harris said that Rell subsequently decided that "the right thing to do was to return the checks."

He said the fact that the names could then be withheld "was certainly not a consideration in any way, shape or form. ... Any suggestion otherwise is offensive."

Harris said that the campaign has turned over the list of Dec. 7 contributors to the office of Chief State's Attorney Christopher L. Morano, who is conducting a criminal investigation, and to the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which is investigating whether any non-criminal election laws were broken. Neither agency will release the list, at least while investigations are underway.

Among the issues under scrutiny are possible violations of a state law banning commissioners and deputy commissioners of state agencies from soliciting campaign contributions. Moody gave multiple invitations to some officials to hand out to others, and some of those officials passed them along, sources said. The invitations said that those attending could contribute up to $2,500.

Morano and elections enforcement commission Director Jeffrey B. Garfield have refused to comment on their agencies' investigations.Garfield did say Thursday, however, that it is legal for the Rell campaign to return the checks uncashed within 14 days of receiving them and to refrain from reporting those contributions.

Donors have been getting their contributions back this week by mail, along with a letter of apology from Rell.

"As you know, the event on December 7 has unfortunately become the subject of controversy," the letter says in part.

"I have decided that the best way to proceed is to return the contributions of everyone who attended that event or donated to it."

Rell's refusal to make the names public might amplify criticism from Democrats, who have accused her of stonewalling on a clean-campaigning issue that she claims to champion.Meanwhile on Thursday, the Associated Press reported that Moody wrote a memo to staff members in May outlining Rell's policy prohibiting gubernatorial employees from soliciting contributions from other employees or encouraging them to attend campaign events. That story followed reports in The Courant that those rules had been laid out in an October memo from ethics counsel Rachel Rubin, at a staff meeting involving Rubin and in a conversation that Rubin had with Moody days before she delivered the invitations to commissioners.

Earlier Thursday, Rell reiterated her support for Moody during an appearance on WTIC-AM 1080 at a Salvation Army "holiday store" in Wethersfield.

"I know she never would do anything intentionally to embarrass herself or me," Rell said.

Off the air, Rell told reporters that she has met with Rubin. But Rell deflected most questions, saying that the matter is under investigation."I have spoken with Rachel and legal counsel in the governor's office. Obviously, that is a confidential conversation," Rell said.

"Any investigation now, other than on a breach of a policy which I have addressed in my office, is rightfully before the elections enforcement commission."

Asked if she had tried to determine if any commissioner had solicited campaign contributions in violation of state law, Rell said, "I have been told that the election enforcement commission is interviewing those individuals, and I will wait for their report."

Regarding the returned contributions, she was asked if the donors were free to give the money back to the campaign.

"If they want to, they certainly can. It would be greatly appreciated, but we're certainly not expecting that."

How much money was returned?

"I don't actually have a definite dollar amount, but it was a large amount of money. To me it was a large amount of money."

Fifty thousand?

"Close."

To comment on this story, or to request a correction click here to send a message to Karen Hunter, The Courant's reader representative.

Click here to read Karen's daily Weblog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's like this across the board:

The below from the Hartford Courant:


CONNECTICUT NEWS
Changes Urged In Probate Courts
Panel Sees Variations In Service, Training
December 21, 2005 By KIM MARTINEAU, Courant Staff Writer

A state legislative investigation has found Connecticut's probate court system wasteful and lacking consistent service and professionalism.

Investigators have recommended that the state consolidate its 123 probate courts and require all probate judges to be trained in the law and sit full time, to eliminate conflict with their outside jobs.

A group of lawmakers, the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee, ordered the investigation in April, after a sweeping plan proposed by the state probate administrator to restructure the system failed to go anywhere.

The results of the investigation were made public Tuesday, and lawmakers briefly discussed the report's findings. They then put the report aside until next month, when they may vote on whether to adopt its controversial recommendations.

A Yale University law professor who testified last fall before the committee has called Connecticut probate a "national scandal."

Other outsiders have been almost as harsh."It's an extremely inefficient system," Peter Costas, a Hartford lawyer who like many of those willing to criticize probate openly does not make a living in trusts and estates, said on Tuesday, following release of the report.

"The probate court is a sacred cow. It's a lot of patronage. You have people who have very good part-time jobs for being active in their political party."Most people go to probate court to settle the estates of family members, but the courts also handle commitments of people with mental illness, termination of parental rights and other matters involving children and the elderly. The court system pays for itself, largely through fees the courts charge for handling estate matters.

Connecticut has one of the oldest probate systems in the country and, after Georgia, boasts possibly the largest number of judges. Probate judges are elected to four-year terms and the only qualification required is that they live in the district they serve. About a quarter of the state's 123 probate judges do not have law degrees and moonlight in such varied professions as martial arts instructor, waitress and orthopedic surgeon.

The report recommends consolidating to cut expenses and improve service to the public. Though the courts are informal and often easy to use, their hours vary widely. With some judges proficient in the law and others not, professionalism also varies.Disparity in workload and salary is also a problem, and the report recommends that an independent consultant re-evaluate compensation. The analyst who wrote the report, Michelle Castillo, estimated that the Hartford probate judge alone carries the same workload as the 17 judges who cover all of Windham and Tolland counties.

Though many judges work only one or two days a week they receive full state health benefits, as do court employees who work more than 20 hours a week.

Salaries for judges are set by an arcane formula that weighs their workload against the size of their district and other factors. Though Hartford Probate Judge Robert Killian Jr. made nearly $94,000 last year, the most a probate judge can make, his court handles the most work making it the most cost-efficient in the state, the report found. Norfolk Judge Linda Riiska, in contrast, made $32,000, but her court is open just six hours a week, making her court the least cost-efficient, the report found.Significantly, the investigation validated the probate system's shaky financial footing.

Three courts - Bridgeport, West Haven and Norfolk - are subsidized by the other probate courts because they run at a loss, the report found. But when health insurance costs are factored into each court's expenses, about a third of the courts, 41 of them, run at a deficit. Faced with soaring health insurance costs, the state probate administrator, Judge James Lawlor, proposed a plan last year that would have effectively created regional probate courts, to save money. The legislature failed to act on the plan amid widespread complaints, many of them from small-town judges whose jobs were placed in jeopardy.

Some judges accused Lawlor of exaggerating the probate system's financial shape as an excuse to abolish the small-town courts. But the report confirms Lawlor's basic concerns, estimating the system will run into financial problems within the next five years.

The report was, however, critical of the growth in Lawlor's own budget and called for the administrator to submit an itemized budget for the regional children's courts he has created. It also recommended that the state Department of Children and Families and other agencies that use the children's courts help pay for them.

The committee will meet again on Jan. 19. Most of the recommendations, if adopted, would need the approval of the state legislature before they took effect.

To comment on this story, or to request a correction click here to send a message to Karen Hunter, The Courant's reader representative. Click here to read Karen's daily Weblog.

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Blogger's Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials- Notice

Typical Connecticut?:

A recent post on FreeSpeech.com:

New London County, CT courts covered up (Murder For Hire) case?
CT is corrupt.

The Norwich, CT court officials have a record of cover-ups, especially Court Inspector James Dignoti. It has been alleged that Mr. Dignoti accepted sexual favors in the past from a Chris Bruno (an ex-drug user and prostitute.) to fix criminal cases against her.

Claims are that his policy is to accept these types of favors. It is also believed Dignoti conspired to cover up the Phil Inkel (murder for hire) case in 1994. Sources say that Colchester Police officers James Nardella and Charles Scott Thomas hired a Todd Vachon and others for 10,000.00, a car, a boat and official favors—to kill Phil Inkel after he was instructed by U.S. attorney John Durham to gather affidavits for alleged victims of Police abuse. Phil inkel originally witnessed an assault by officers James Nardella and Mark Gendron of a juvenile (Michael Sienkiewcz) in 1994 and just wanted justice for any victims.

Philip Inkel was later assaulted in the McDonald’s parking lot on May 21, 1994 by Colchester officers Charles A. Thomas Jr. (aka Scott Thomas), James Nardella, CT Trooper Norman Seney III and an off duty Norwich police officer Joseph Jones. Mr. Inkel’s paperwork was confiscated and destoryed by the order of Colchester resident State trooper Fred Brigger.— all were addressed to U.S. attorney John Durham for an investigation into the alleged brutality.

A public defender actually decided to lend a vehicle to Mr. Inkel for several months because the public defender believed there was a plot to murder him. It was said that the plan was to run Inkel over while he was bike riding at night with a stolen vehicle and plant alcohol in the vehicle to then make it appear to be a hit & run by a drunk driver.

Despite the fact probable cause existed, the officers were never prosecuted. Many believe Norwich Court Inspector James Dignoti conspired with officers James Nardella, Charles Thomas, and prosecutor Tom Griffin to hinder prosecution. Later the case was transfered to the New London court under the jurisdiction of the late and corrupt prosecutor C. Robert (do nothing) Sotti.

Prosecutor Sotti was well known for covering up crimes of politicians. The Inkel case is just another tail of decades of corruption in New London County. It has been alleged that Dignoti and prosecutor Dave Smith may now be railroading a mentally handicapped man.

It doesn’t seem to be a good year in Norwich, CT. When will the corruption stop and justice begin? Phil Inkel was finally awarded little justice in March 2000 by winning a federal lawsuit. Inkel story can be found on the Hartford Courant website. archives::: Story




[more information and video, click here]

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

From a Civil Rights Lawyers blog:

Civil rights and criminal law, federalism, and Section 1983
« Overcriminalization Watch Main
December 14, 2005

A Crock of Feces
NormPattis

While we are on the topic of overcriminalization, consider this gem from my home state of Connecticut. Students in high schools in the state capital now face fines for cursing. The violation? Creating a public disturbance.

I dare not speak freely here about this new application of an old law for fear of some novel prosecution. The chief state's attorney, Christopher Morano, defends the prosecutions. He thinks they will keep the peace in troubled inner city schools.

As Reported In The New York Times

Apparently, scores of students have been issued citations calling for the payment of $103. To date, no one has apparently paid the fine. Prosecutors say they are willing to be flexible on the penalty, realizing that kids may not be able to pony up.

Question: A kid gets cited for cursing. He looks at the ticket and utters: "This is bullshit." Does he get another ticket?

December 14, 2005 Permalink
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Comments
Actually this is old news.
Posted by: KipEsquire Dec 14, 2005 4:34:21 PM

Does this mean I am fired? Just noticed it today
Posted by: norm pattis Dec 14, 2005 4:57:29 PM

There is little job growth, people aren't locating to Connecticut, it is usually twice as expensive as compared to other states to do business in Connecticut.

Police in Connecticut are sent out to collect overdue library fines. What does that say?
I was on the top end of Rt 84 from Vernon to the Mass border in a 4 day period. I have been gone to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas to help the hurricane victims. Since Sept. 15 I have not seen as many citizens pulled over the entire time I have been gone as compared to 4 days in Connecticut.


The state keeps growing, and guess what, they're out to rip off as many people as they can.
It is profitable in federal dollars to take kids away, break up families, put people in prison, make them take state programs, and to encourage vice and immorality.


The way courts run in Connecticut is an embarrassment to the entire US.

Remember the lawyer in West Hartford that allegedly assaulted a polic officer?

Why did it take the cop a week to realize he was assaulted? The answer is in the dirt and retaliation for that lawyer knowing too much and getting in the way.

If a lawyer actually defends his/her client against the network of corruption in Connecticut they risk their law license, financial security, family, and ultimately their freedom.

Try proposing Civilian Oversight of police to an elected official and see how many days it takes to get followed around by police, threatened, and in prison.

If Connecticut were a country, I would have spent the rest of my life in a Connecticut prison for getting mouthy about corruption and in proposing laws to elected officials making those spending our tax dollars, accountable to us and to laws.

Connecticut is about a few, rich and powerful ripping everyone off, and wrecking the lives of the little people that dare complain.

Posted by: Steven G. Erickson Dec 14, 2005 7:32:43 PM
Post a comment

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Horrid Treatment of Humans

Connecticut might have the lowest job growth the whole United States.

I found out it is one of the shittiest places to live in America. I would have been better off never returning from one of the trips I took to Europe and the former USSR.

Police commit perjury, and the legal system is just one big sick joke.

A privileged few, take all they please, and wreck lives on a whim.


-Steven G. Erickson aka Vikingas

The History of Abuse of Citizens arbitrarily caught up in the legal system

I received the below by email today:

Sent :
Friday, December 9, 2005 8:52 PM
To :
spinlyme@yahoogroiups.com, ctlyme@yahoogroups.com

CC :
caga@snet.net, trvl@hotmail.com, ubinas@courant.com, horgan@courant.com, jacklin@courant.com
Subject :
The suicide watch



(Hartford Courant Story, below)
The suicide watch is the most exquisite form of torture the prison has. They
take all your clothes, put you literally in one of those moving company carpets
with arm holes, like a big dress- it's a carpet - you can only have a shower a
few days a week with a few guards watching. There is no running water in the
cell (there are sinks, but the water is turned off), you can't brush your
teeth...

You are in a cell with a guard (usually male) sitting outside the door in a high
stool watching you 24 hours. They throw three grotesque baloney sandwiches at
you three times a day and a 10% orange juice box which is maybe 8 oz. Nothing
to read. You sleep in a plastic box on the floor, and there is absolutely
nothing in the room. It's of course, freezing and there is a wind blowing
constantly, in all the cells, not just "the suicide watch."

By the time you get out of there, you swear you will not fail your next suicide
attempt.

No, I was never in there, I just saw it all the time. It is true torture.

These women are kept like animals. You are allowed no underwear, and the ladies
tell me they have to just hold that pad between their legs 24/7 during that time
of the month.

If you happen to walk past their cells (like, totally wrapped in chains, and I
mean totally- your hands are chained to your waste, you are in leg irons, and
the chain is wrapped around your body- you can't even scratch your nose, and you
sit like this on the "bus" being carted to just about every courtroom in the
State, loading and unloading several times a day, and "court runs" start at 5
AM)

If you walk past their suicide watch cells, they are often on the floor,
grovelling like animals.

*THIS* is where they will throw a crooked State Trooper.

That would be because if she had the chance, she would kill herself, knowing
what York is like. The same was true for Trooper Bocchichio and Diaz. They did
not want to go to jail - they were rather die, and believe me, killing yourself
is a really rational idea when faced with a CT prison. The jails are *that*
bad.

There are no pillows, and the blankets are like the food. Cartoon Blankets.
You get two blankets, and they are like big floppy crocheted things, like a
waffle.

This is where you get your dental floss. Threads from your clothing and sheets.
(They don't allow you to buy dental floss.)

The guards are all like Chuck Graner. They are all psychopaths and KKK
skinheads. I mean, 99.999% of them. You know. I won't say all, but maybe one
out of 200 is remotely like a human being. I can name two of them.

People were asking me all the time how they could kill themselves once they knew
I was a scientist and worked for Pfizer. I was like, "Well, the simplest way is
to hang yourself from the upper bunk." (the cells are about 6 feet wide and
three of those feet are bunks. The length is about 10 feet and two of those
feet is the sinks. So there is about 10 square feet of walking space, and there
are two chairs in each room, taking up some of those 10 feet).]

Jailers should not be in charge of how jails are run, just like DCF should not
write their own legislation, because it suits THEM, and not their victims.
The CT legislators and the Governor do not want to hear about any of this.
The women ZOOM over to "Mental Health" where they can get any drug they want,
which is usually seroquel, so they can sleep their sentences away. The gym
equipment is all broken. There are two stationary bikes. That's it, for 50
women at a time, and they are both broken. All you can do is walk for an hour a
day, 5 days a week, if the guards are not being too crazy, which is usually the
case.

So, in reality, you are lucky to get outside 3-4 days a week. The prisoners are
all insane. It takes about 4 hours of being locked in a cell, before you lose
your mind.

Imagine what shape these 17 year olds are in, after having been there two years.
They talk baby talk. I have seen grown women sucking their thumbs, and make no
attempt to hide it. You can't imagine what it is like to look at nothing but
cement walls for months on end. You lose your depth perception.

You start walking like an extremely drunk person. Going outside makes you
extremely dizzy. And then once you're out, you think every sound is the police
coming to arrest you again, for crimes you did not commit.

But the suicide watch is the worst. That's 15 days in a cage wearing a carpet.
You can't even wash your hands after the toilet.

Kathleen

===========
courant.com
http://www.courant.com/news/local/hc-trooperarraigned.dec09,0,3156414.story?coll=hc-headlines-home
Veteran State Trooper Arraigned on Sex Charges
By LARRY SMITH
The Hartford Courant
December 9 2005, 2:25 PM EST

ENFIELD -- A veteran female state trooper who headed the town's emergency
management department, and the agency's executive officer, were arraigned this
morning in Superior Court in Enfield on charges of alleged sexual abuse of a
12-year-old boy.

State Trooper Mary Buckley,59, was arrested Thursday evening and charged with
hindering prosecution, three counts of risk of injury to a minor, interfering
with a police officer and failure to report sexual abuse by a mandated reporter.
She was released on $250,000 bail Thursday night.

As director of the East Windsor emergency management department, Buckley
supervised executive officer Peter Waraksa, 43, of East Windsor, who was charged
with first-degree sexual assault, first-degree risk of injury, first-degree
kidnapping and employing a minor in an obscene performance. He was ordered held
on $500,000 by Judge Howard Scheinblum.

Scheinblum also ordered that Waraksa be put on suicide watch while being held in
jail. The arrest warrants containing details of the alleged crimes were sealed
by Scheinblum. Buckley's and Waraksa's next court date is scheduled for December
19.

Police said they were contacted on Nov. 29 by the boy's family, who said the boy
had been sexually assaulted by a 43-year-old man. The assaults, said to have
taken place in the suspect's home, occurred from sometime in May until early
fall, police said.

Police charge that Buckley was told about what Waraksa was doing and did not
report it.

After Buckley's appearance her attorney, Hope Seeley, would only say that the
allegations against her client were not true.

Public Safety Commissioner Leonard C. Boyle said Thursday Buckley has been
placed on administrative duty and relieved of her police powers. An internal
affairs investigation has been opened, he said, but will not be completed until
after the criminal case is adjudicated.

Copyright 2005, Hartford Courant
--
Lyme borreliosis is a permanent brain infection.
http://actionlyme.org

* * * *

Fair use of copyrighted material

* * * *

My email to incoming Gov. Rell of Connecticut regarding Rowland and corruption

How can there not still be sleaze in the Connecticut Governor’s Office, if former Rowland aids are answering Rell’s phones? (post)

Can cops rape, rob, beat, and murder with immunity?
(post contains pictures of young adults brutalized by police, and picture of a 1978 Chevrolet Corvette and one of the houses I fixed up from a boarded up condition)

This blogger's email: stevengerickson@yahoo.com

* * * *

Names named, criminals in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, reported but nothing is done by the armed revenue collectors and the money collecting, not criminal correcting, court system

Monday, December 05, 2005

Follow the Money


Scandal May Recast Rules On Lobbying

Abramoff Investigation Touches Many In Congress
December 5, 2005

By ROBERT LITTLE, Baltimore Sun

What began last year as a seemingly routine inquiry into an allegedly crooked lobbyist has evolved into an investigation that could recast the relationship between money and influence on Capitol Hill, according to political analysts and scholars.

The three-pronged investigation into lobbyist Jack Abramoff and more than $80 million in payments he and associates took from Indian tribes has tarnished two members of Congress, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. Dozens of others are under scrutiny for promoting the causes of Abramoff's clients while accepting suspiciously timed political contributions linked to the once-mighty lobbyist.

Still more lawmakers have begun returning Abramoff-related contributions or donating them to charity - a practice that could become its own financial torrent if it catches on, because Abramoff and his associates and clients contributed money to perhaps one-third of the 435 members of the House of Representatives over the past four years.

But Washington insiders say the most consequential outcome of the Abramoff affair could be on the horizon, if the investigation continues to suggest that cozy, often questionable relationships between money and lawmaking have become the standard in Washington, rather than the exception. Many expect efforts to tighten federal lobbying regulations to gain momentum they've lacked in recent years, perhaps by further restricting gifts and travel reimbursements or by imposing tougher disclosure and reporting requirements.

"The scale and cynicism of the operation puts it in a category of its own," said Thomas E. Mann, a congressional specialist and senior fellow with the Brookings Institution in Washington, who believes the fallout from the Abramoff scandal will rewrite Washington's rules governing the financial dealings and disclosure for lobbyists.

"At some point you hit a sort of tipping point, where the scandal becomes so broad, with so many people involved, that it can no longer be tagged as an aberration and can no longer be disregarded," said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

"I think we are very near that point now."

The ultimate scope of the investigations that Abramoff's dealings have spawned is uncertain, with some observers suspecting the scandal is limited to a few lawmakers and lobbyists and the relatively obscure realm of Indian gaming, while others see much broader implications. The Justice Department reportedly is employing more than three dozen people to investigate members of congress and their aides who have done business with Abramoff, and two investigations by congressional committees are underway.

U.S. Rep. Robert W. Ney, R-Ohio, is under scrutiny for apparently supporting Abramoff's purchase of a Florida gambling-boat company in 2000, a transaction that led to the lobbyist's indictment in August on charges of wire fraud and conspiring to defraud lenders. DeLay accepted overseas trips financed by Abramoff clients, and evidence from the Senate investigations suggests he pressured the lobbyist to raise money for him.

Combined with unrelated corruption cases in Washington - California Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's resignation last week after pleading guilty to bribery and tax evasion charges, for instance - the scandal has created a ripe environment for legislative reform, Noble said.

"If you assume this is all going on, that people are buying influence with gifts and trips and even bribes, then what we're talking about is something that really undermines the very fabric of representative democracy," said Noble.

"It's unfortunate, because not all lawmakers are like that, not all lobbyists are like that. But what is the public going to believe?"

From the early days of the Bush administration, Abramoff, an avowed Republican, developed a reputation for his prowess and connections lobbying on behalf of Indian tribes with gambling operations. U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is leading one of the investigations into Abramoff's dealings, called him a "vainglorious and once-powerful rainmaker" during one of the committee's recent hearings.

In early 2004 a series of stories in The Washington Post revealed that Abramoff and an associate, public relations specialist and former DeLay staffer Michael Scanlon, had collected more than $45 million in payments from Indian tribe clients despite a lull in Indian-related issues being debated in Congress.

The allegations against Abramoff have expanded to include claims of steering donations to favored lawmakers or to his own nonprofit enterprises. Also under review is Abramoff's role in the so-called K Street Project undertaken by GOP leaders to persuade Washington lobbying companies to hire Republicans - some people say to offset the lingering Clinton-era imbalance, others say to monopolize Washington's political infrastructure.

A friend and longtime associate of Republican activist Grover Norquist, the project's most outspoken proponent, Abramoff is being investigated for reportedly arranging private-sector employment in his lobbying enterprise for government workers who helped his clients.Scanlon, 35, pleaded guilty last month in U.S. District Court in Washington to conspiring to defraud four Indian tribes, and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

"We have uncovered almost unbelievable things here," said U.S. Sen. Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, the top Democrat on the Indian Affairs Committee, as he opened a fifth congressional hearing into the matter late last month.

"We have uncovered activities that are pretty disgusting, some perhaps criminal, many unethical. I think that from these hearings will come a series of ideas for change and reform."

Yet lobbyists and other Washington officials say the complexities of trying to root out corruption or undue political influence with legislation is evident in Dorgan himself, who received nearly $95,000 in contributions from Abramoff or his clients over four years.

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