Tales from the Trail

20th Abramoff scandal conviction, over World Series trip

jackOne of the last remaining cases from the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal that rocked the U.S. capital resulted in another conviction, this one over an all-expenses paid trip to New York City for the first game of the 2003 World Series.

The Justice Department said it brought to 20 the number of lobbyists, lawmakers, congressional aides or federal government officials convicted as part of the influence-peddling scandal that helped Republicans lose control of Congress in 2006.

A jury convicted Fraser Verrusio, a former U.S. House of Representatives staff member, for conspiring and accepting an  illegal gratuity and making false statements by failing to report his receipt of gifts from a lobbyist and the lobbyist’s client on his 2003 financial disclosure statement.

According to evidence and testimony at trial, Verrusio and another staff member accepted the trip to attend the baseball game from a lobbyist for an equipment rental company interested in adding amendments into the Federal Highway Bill.

Evidence showed one of the lobbyists who helped arrange for the trip worked with Abramoff and that the equipment rental company was a client at Abramoff’s lobbying firm.

When politics feels like a bad flight

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He sounded like someone bombarded by too many election ads.

“I call it the perfect storm of bad manners,” Steven Slater told CNN’s Larry King. “I was angry at all of it.”

The former JetBlue flight attendant, who famously quit his job by jumping down an emergency chute, beer in hand, was talking about his life in the U.S. airline industry — not politics.

But his words could just as easily have described what some people think about the tone of the 2010 midterm election campaign – like audience members who booed Republican California gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman for refusing to stop TV ads attacking her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown. 
    
USA/This election year, negative ads can be mild compared with campaign events on the ground.
    
Last week, Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller’s private security guard handcuffed a journalist for asking questions the candidate didn’t want to answer. This week, video footage from Kentucky shows a woman protester from MoveOn.org being dragged to the ground and stepped on by supporters of Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul. 
    
Among voters, the anger appears aimed mainly at Democrats, who the Cook Political Report’s pre-election House outlook now predicts will lose 48 to 60 seats, with higher losses possible.
    
Republican officials are already preparing for an invasion of fresh new GOP House members, some of them Tea Party candidates who say they want nothing to do with business as usual in Washington. USA-POLITICS

Who are you calling a “punk staffer”?

House Republican leader John Boehner’s comment about “punk staffers” involved in the writing of the financial regulation bill did not seem to sit well with White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers.

FINANCE/SUMMERSIn an appearance at the National Press Club, Summers made a point of bringing up the comments by Boehner, who urged bankers to stand up for themselves and said they should not “let those little punk staffers” working on the bill take advantage of them.

Boehner may not have been spoiling for a fight, but he got one.

Summers pressed his criticism of lobbyists who the Obama administration accuse of trying to water down the proposals for tighter regulation of Wall Street.