(R-MT) accused of being on the take, pleads he's just a coward.
From The Missoulian
U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., changed his stance on a 2001 bill after receiving a $5,000 donation from a lobbyist's client who opposed the legislation, records show.
The client hired Jack Abramoff as a lobbyist to defeat the kind of bill Burns voted against. Prior to receiving the payment, Burns did not oppose an identical bill that unanimously passed the Senate in 2000, Senate documents show.
Burns, who is up for re-election next year, told the Missoulian State Bureau on Friday that the campaign contribution had nothing to do with his vote, but said it happened so long ago, he couldn't remember why he opposed the 2001 measure. Burns said he may have initially not opposed the legislation's unanimous passage because it was politically more expedient not to stand in the way of a popular bill.
âAny time you put a hold on a bill, you expend political capital,â Burns said.
Actually, it gets better.
The story turns on legislation which would have cracked down on the sweat shop owners Abramoff represented in the Marianas Islands.
In 2000, records show, the U.S. Senate took up a bill that would have broadened federal oversight of immigration and labor rules on the islands. The bill came before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on which Burns served. The bill passed out of committee, records show.
However, because of the way the vote was recorded, it's impossible to tell how any individual senators, including Burns, voted.
On the floor, the bill faced no resistance, passing by unanimous consent. The Senate did not actually vote on the bill. Rather, senators agreed to pass it unanimously without taking a vote. Any one senator, including Burns, could have opposed the unanimous passage.
Burns said Friday that because there was not an actual vote on the bill, it's impossible to say that he definitely supported the measure.
âNot always can it be assumed that a piece of legislation that passes on unanimous consent can you definitely say, âThat's a yes vote,' â said Burns.
Toward the end of the piece there's this great Burns' moment. Asked why he called for the roll call vote that tanked the legislation ...
âI haven't a clue why,â he said. âYou're talking four or five years ago.â
Certainly more to come from this joker.