For those lawmakers who fear they may find themselves embroiled in scandal: take this page from Rep. Ralph Hall 's(R-TX) playbook -- and learn from it.
As we reported back in September
, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) took the floor of Congress in 1996 to question a 15 year-old girl's claim that she had been the victim of sex trafficking in the Northern Mariana Islands, a client of Jack Abramoff. "[S]he wanted to do nude dancing," Hall said. A lobbyist working with Abramoff helped Hall prepare his statement, and Abramoff had earlier paid for a trip by Hall to the islands.
Late last week, Hall's local paper revisited the issue
and gave him another chance to respond. Despite having a decade to think up some decent explanations, Ralph stumbled badly.
On the question of whether Abramoff had paid for his trip:
âThey [Preston Gates, Abramoff's law firm] may have paid for it [the trip]. I think I heard something about a technicality that one group couldnât pay for something.â
On the question of whether Abramoff had prepared the statement for Hall, as indicated by billing records, which show Abramoff's associate conferring with Hall's legislative advisor on it:
âHe [Abramoff's associated Lloyd Meeds] may have been the one to give me the information I put in there [Congressional Record] but I got it from my legislative advisor."
On the question of whether Abramoff actually wrote the very statement that Hall read on the floor of Congress:
"[My Democratic opponent] says Abramoff paid for my trip to the islands and wrote my report. He didnât write my report, I wrote it out in my own hand. He might have charged them for it, because he was a crook. At that time he was well thought of."Update
: Somehow I missed this bit of the piece, where Hall explains how his trip to the Marianas helped fight the Cold War... in 1996:
Asked how the 1996 trip benefited the Texas Fourth Congressional District he represents, Hall said, âI think it benefits my constituents if you do anything that benefits the Peace Through Strength people, when youâre going out to bring information to them to help win the Cold War. Thatâs a benefit to them, to their strategic interests.â
I'm no great student of history, but the last time I checked, the Cold War ended in 1991.
Hall claims the trip was arranged by a group called the National Security Caucus Foundation, which in an earlier incarnation, was known as Peace Through Strength. However, Abramoff paid for the trip.