Update: The whole story in two sentences:
“I think this has the potential to be the biggest scandal in Congress in over a century. I’ve been around Washington for 35 years, watching Congress, and I’ve never seen anything approaching Abramoff for cynicism and chutzpah in proposing quid pro quos to members of Congress.”
As predicted, Michael Scanlon’s decision to flip has broken the story into above-the-fold, major story territory. Here are some of the better sources for background and context:
* The WaPo has been on the Scanlon issue like white on rice. See here, here and here. You’ll read why rep. Bob Ney (R – OH 18) shouldn’t make any plans for his next term of office.
* The LA Times weighs in.
* The NY Times discusses lawmakers in danger and offers a profile of Scanlon plus the obligatory Scanlon-flipped story. Thanks to intrepid Times reporters we discover that the greatest sleaze machine in history was managed by a ritalin-snorting teenager:
In e-mail correspondence between Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon released by the Senate committee, it is the junior partner who often displays his thirst for wealth. “I want all their money!!” Mr. Scanlon wrote in one e-mail message to Mr. Abramoff in 2002, referring to the Tigua Indian tribe. In another, involving the Coushatta Indians, he wrote: “Weeez gonna be rich!!”
* Roll Call (subscription only) goes deeper into Bob Ney’s potential troubles:
While the criminal information document refers only to a “Representative #1,” that is widely believed to be Ney. The inference by federal prosecutors is clear: In return for a golf junket to Scotland, tickets to sporting events and free meals, the lawmaker agreed to “perform a series of official acts” that benefited Scanlon and Abramoff’s clients, including trying to insert a provision in a 2002 election-reform bill that would aid a Texas Indian tribe that was secretly paying Scanlon and Abramoff millions of dollars.
Ney also inserted statements in the Congressional Record linked to Abramoff’s purchase of a Florida gambling cruise-ship company. The Justice Department alleges, again without naming Ney, that he helped in “advancing the application” of an Abramoff client “for a license to install wireless telephone infrastructure in the House of Representatives.” That company later paid Abramoff $280,000, according to lobbying reports.
The Ohio Republican has already been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to turn over any documents in his possession related to Abramoff to the Justice Department.
* Once a scandal hits above-the-fold status you find it practically everywhere in the blogosphere; among the standouts is this post by Josh Marshall.
In other news, Italia Federici hasn’t succeeded in explaining apparent money laundering at her phony enviro outfit.
* NPR sums up its reporting thusly:
Federici said she assumed the tribes were simply generous supporters of the environment, even though she never spoke with them about it.
* The Rocky Mountain News reports that Senators didn’t buy it.
* The Denver Post on Federici, with bonus outrage. What is it with Federici and the mountain west? My guess is that people harbor a special hate for Gale Norton out there. CO residents are welcome to weigh in with their own ideas.