When the White House nominated Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) to succeed Ken Mehlman as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, some wondered why they'd exchanged one man with a Jack Abramoff problem for another.
The RNC won't vote to approve Martinez until January. But we hear that new revelations about Martinez's ties to the now-imprisoned Abramoff are due to be released before that happens. If that happens, and it jeopardizes Martinez's bid to lead the GOP, the party could face some serious questions about why it can't seem to find a qualified, muck-free leader.
As we've noted before, Abramoff had aggressively courted Martinez when he was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of his tribal clients. In his guilty plea, Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) admitted to lobbying Martinez on Abramoff's behalf. And when Martinez launched his Senate bid in 2004, Abramoff co-chaired a fundraiser that netted him $250,000. Martinez has said that he never met Abramoff when he was Secretary of HUD. But it seems there's more to that tale.
Ken Mehlman, of course, despite his protestations to the contrary, was close to Abramoff -- so close that Abramoff's associates referred to him as their "rock star" for his many favors on their behalf.