One more down… how many to go? White House aide found guilty in Abramoff scandal

Today’s conviction of former White House aide David Safavian, on charges that he lied and obstructed justice in the investigation of his dealings with disgraced former super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, is a breath of fresh air. (See today’s headlines, below.) While a number of players in the wide-ranging corruption probe, including Abramoff himself, pled guilty to charges, today’s conviction follows the first trial coming out of the Abramoff scandal.

Every once in a while, justice is served.

The larger and more important question, though, is who will follow? Safavian was found guilty on one count for lying about the infamous Abramoff-organized trip to St. Andrew’s golf course in Scotland in 2002. Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) was on that trip, and Ney’s former chief of staff Neil Volz (who has pled guilty), testifed against Safavian. Will Ney be the next one indicted? What about other inductees in our Hall of Shame, many of them under scrutiny for their ties to Abramoff? Given that Safavian was the top White House procurement officer, will his conviction once again raise the question of Bush’s ties to Abramoff?

The even larger question, of course, is whether additional convictions of current lawmakers will bring about changes in the way Congress does business, including better ethics rules and lobbying reform than the toothless jokes Congress offered up this spring. And if not, will that failure then lead to a reaction by the electorate in November…and a new crop of legislators more interested in doing the people’s business rather than the business of their campaign contributors and lobbyists?

-Gordon Clark