It is payback time for Republicans, who have been burying Democrats in a blizzard of attacks about a “pay-to-play” scandal that has embarrassed and distracted Barack Obama’s presidential transition and tax-evasion charges against a powerful political ally in the House.
Two years ago, it was the Democrats who were pounding congressional Republicans for a string of lobbying, legislative-payoff and sex scandals, but now it’s the Democrats and President-elect Obama who are on the defensive a little more than one month before they are to take charge of the government and strengthen their grip on Congress.
Democratic Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, whom Mr. Obama endorsed and supported in two gubernatorial campaigns, was arrested last week by federal authorities in a brazen “pay-to-play” scandal said to involve attempts to extract payoffs for filling Mr. Obama’s open Senate seat.
By Donald lambro
The Washington Times
**FILE** A Nov. 5, 2008 file photo shows Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich at a news conference in Chicago.
And Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York, the influential chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee — who would be in charge of Mr. Obama’s tax plan — is being investigated for, among other things, failure to pay his taxes and helping a wealthy donor to a center named in his honor to obtain a tax loophole in return for a large contribution to the facility.
Last week, Republican campaign committees unleashed a barrage of press releases promoting a flood of press stories about the Democrats’ latest troubles with headlines that read “Did Obama team have contact with Ill. governor?”; “Rangel’s troubles create a problem for the Democrats”; and “Democrats’ web of corruption continues to grow.”
Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., smiles as he leaves the House of Representatives where majority Democrats, in the face of strong GOP opposition, passed a $14 billion emergency loan for struggling U.S. automakers, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The smell of a partywide scandal “might be building, though it’s not there yet,” said Jennifer Duffy, senior political analyst at the Cook Political Report. “But Democrats