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Democratic senator caught fudging truth

Byron Dorgan

WASHINGTON – It was only last week that the Huffington Post began asking elected officials named in Jack Abramoff’s new book as recipients of his clients’ cash about the charges.

The denials came fast and furious.

Some, like Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., not only denied taking any money from Abramoff, they denied ever meeting with him, ever laying eyes on him and ever being in the same room with him. And they called Abramoff a liar for making the charges.

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In “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist,” Abramoff had this to say about Dorgan: “Byron Dorgan railed against the ‘cesspool of greed’ surrounding my practice. I guess it wasn’t a cesspool when he had his hand out to take over $75,000 in campaign contributions from our team and clients.”

Dorgan’s initial reaction?

“He’s probably pretty upset with me because I helped lead the investigation that helped send him to prison.”

The senator told The Huffington Post that he never met Abramoff and never took any money from him.

“He was both a liar and thief,” Dorgan said. “What we do know is that he was corrupt. That’s what we do know. For him to allege corruption of others is pretty Byzantine.”

Never took money from him? Maybe Dorgan is forgetful, but in 2005, he not only admitted to taking Abramoff money, he returned some of it.

The Washington Post reported in December 2005 that Dorgan, then vice chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, that he would return $67,000 in donations from Indian tribes represented by Abramoff.

The Washington Times reported back then that the contributions to Dorgan are part of $700,000 in contributions that Republicans say have been made to Senate Democrats by Abramoff, his Indian tribe clients and his associates.

Dorgan was just one of 44 Senate Democrats to have taken Abramoff-related money. Meanwhile the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee accepted more than $1.2 million in Abramoff money.

In total, Senate Democrats and their national committees have accepted $3.1 million, compared with $4.3 million in contributions to Republicans from Abramoff, his clients and his associates.

To date, the Huffington Post has not issued a correction.

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