Senate Majority Project

Monday, December 05, 2005

This Watchdog is Done Barking

McCain Refuses to Follow Abramoff Trail Where it Leads

Now that the Indian Affairs Committee hearing has wrapped up, its become clear that the U.S. Senate has only taken the first step. Recent revelations surrounding lawmakers like Sen. Conrad Burns and Rep. Bob Ney show that the investigation has just scratched the surface.

Despite the fact we are only facing the first down, John McCain punted yesterday on Meet the Press. He said that his committee will not look further at the issue and suggested the ethics committee, the government or the media. The problem is that McCain himself admitted that the ethics committee doesn’t work very well, and the media does not have the power of subpoena. In fact many of the discoveries the media made were based on documents and testimony that was pried loose by McCain’s Committee.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator, you said you're going to follow the money, but are you also going to investigate which legislators may have taken money and used that to influence legislation, to write into law what you're suggesting the behavior of senators, your colleagues? Are you going to investigate them?

SEN. McCAIN: The--I will not, because I'm a chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee. This was brought to our--this whole thing started--was brought to us--attention by some disgruntled tribal council members in a small tribe in Louisiana, and we took it as far as we thought was our responsibility, which is where the money ends up. I'm not as--we are responsible for Indian affairs. We have an Ethics Committee. We have a government--we have other committees of Congress, but we also have a very active media.

MR. RUSSERT: Does the Ethics Committee work in all honesty?

SEN. McCAIN: I don't think the Ethics Committees are working very well. …
With Republicans in the House and Senate as well as the executive branch implicated, the odds are slim that there will be a serious look at this as long as both branches are in Republicans control. Among other things, this Congress has already dragged its feet on investigating items such as
  • Pre-war Iraq intelligence
  • The outing of a CIA agent by a top Administration official
  • Corporate and political contributors who influenced the drafting of the country’s energy policy,
  • Torture and detention at Abu Gharib and other detention centers
  • Alleged abuses and rip-offs by army contractors
With serious evidence raised that the Abramoff lobbying scandal affected votes and national policy, the American people deserve a serious, independent look into the facts.