Influential Lobbyist is Under Federal Investigation

        Jack Abramoff’s lobbying firm paid David G. Lopez, a former top aide to California Republican Rep. John Dolittle, to travel to Puerto Rico, according to recent AP reports.

AP reports say that this trip that took place five years ago is the latest example of connections between Abramoff’s interests and Doolittle, a conservative ally of former House Majority Leader Tom Delay( R-Texas). Those ties have caught the attention of federal investigators.

Abramoff, the once-powerful lobbyist in Washington who built a political alliance with House Republicans, has agreed to provide information and testimony about half a dozen House and Senate members, reported The Washington Post. Last month Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials.

The Washington Post also reported that Abramoff is to provide evidence about congressional staffers, Interior Department workers, other executive branch officials, and other lobbyists.

“Recently the Republican party has been plagued with scandal, so I feel Abramoff’s actions haven’t received the necessary reprimand from the public that he deserves,” said Ebony Ramsey, a junior majoring in political science at Howard University. “I think now is the time for Democrats to step up and demand legislation regulating the relationships and monetary transactions of lobbyists, interest groups and congressmen.”

Dolittle accepted at least $14,000 in campaign money from Abramoff and tens of thousands of dollars more from his Native American tribal clients, and wrote letters to the Interior Department on behalf of two of his tribes, according to AP reports.

House members may not accept anything from lobbyists worth more than $50, and the House rules prohibit lawmakers and staff from taking trips paid for by registered lobbyists or lobbying firms.

“The corruption scheme with Mr. Abramoff is very extensive,” Alice S. Fisher, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said at a news conference with other high-ranking officials of the IRS and the FBI. “We’re going to follow this wherever it goes.”

Dr. John Davis, political science professor at Howard University said that the Abramoff scandal will affect Republicans both long term and short term.

“On the short term Republican leadership is going to be impacted,” said Dr. Davis. “In the long term Republicans are trying to minimize the scandal and its impact on Republican Party leadership. Republicans at all levels are trying to get their act together to minimize the scandal.”

A student views the scandal as another reason to not fully trust government officials.

“Hearing about this latest scandal involving Jack Abramoff makes me lose faith in the government whether it’s the Republican party or the Democratic party, because now I see that there are more corrupt people in high political position,” said Joshua Johnson, senior majoring in computer information systems at California State University at Dominguez Hills.