Thursday, May 18, 2006

Negotiating the Price

The Miami Herald reports that Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) is keeping money raised by Jack Abramoff.

When U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez shed $2,500 in January that his campaign took from an Ohio congressman tied to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a spokeswoman said the Florida senator wanted no contributions with “even a hint of impropriety.”

But Martinez continues to hold on to $250,000 that his 2004 campaign collected at a Washington kickoff fundraiser that was co-chaired and attended by the now disgraced lobbyist.

Abramoff pleaded guilty in January in Miami and Washington to a variety of fraud, tax and corruption charges.

The $1,000-per-person reception at the Ronald Reagan Republican Center was held Feb. 10, 2004 — two months after Martinez stepped down as President Bush’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

[…]

Court papers filed last week by federal prosecutors in Washington said Abramoff enlisted U.S. Rep. Robert Ney, an Ohio Republican, in a January 2003 effort “to influence the decisions and actions” of then-HUD Secretary Martinez. At the time, Ney was the incoming chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees HUD.

The statement made no allegation that Martinez did anything improper. Ney has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged.

It’s amazing what a quarter of a million bucks will do to remove any hint of impropriety.

This story reminds me of the old joke: a rich old man approaches a very attractive young lady in a hotel lobby:

HE: “Would you sleep with me for a million bucks?”
SHE: “Sure!”
HE: “Okay, well, how about for twenty bucks?”
SHE: “Hell, no! What do you think I am?”
HE: “We’ve already established that; now all I’m doing is negotiating the price.”