Skip to comments.HORSE SENSE: Burns fights back against reports of ties to Abramoff
Posted on 01/15/2006 8:06:12 PM PST by BigSkyFreeper
HELENA - A confident and combative Sen. Conrad Burns spent much of the last week in newsrooms proclaiming his innocence in the influence-peddling scandal that's ensnaring Washington.
"I have done nothing wrong," he said at each news organization he visited.
Burns also put the kibosh on the rumors that he'll bow out of the Senate race because of looming legal and political problems from the scandal.
"Write it down, real quick: I've never had more enthusiasm or higher energy for a campaign in my life than I got right now, OK. End of story," he told the Gazette State Bureau last week.
The Republican senator, who turns 71 later this month, pronounced himself fit, fired up and in fighting form. Burns said he looked forward to telling Montanans what he's done for the state as he runs for a fourth term.
In what will be the centerpiece of his campaign again, Burns discussed the importance of his 17 years of seniority in the Senate. From his perch on the powerful Appropriations Committee, Burns has brought back hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money - or pork - to the state.
An angry Burns suggested the Democrats have made him a punching bag for months over his ties to Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, now an admitted felon.
Burns collected nearly $150,000 in campaign money - more than anyone in Con-gress - from Abramoff, his colleagues and his tribal clients. After initially refusing to give back the potentially tainted cash from the Abramoff ATM, Burns reversed himself in December.
But Burns insisted that he has done nothing wrong and that Abramoff's clients' money didn't affect how he voted.
He contended he's the victim of a vicious smear campaign by a Democratic Party desperate to win his seat.
To everyone's amazement, Burns has been slow out of the traces - as has the Republican Party - to respond to the Democrats' charges. Two Montana Democratic Party TV ads earlier this fall linking Burns and Abramoff went unanswered.
The senator left no doubt last week he's fighting back. From his supporters' standpoint, it's high time.
Recent polls have found Burns' support among Montana voters falling. A poll last week showed Burns in a dead heat with leading Democratic challengers John Morrison and Jon Tester after Burns had mounted healthy leads earlier.
Yet Burns will have plenty of money to get his message out to voters. The senator wants to raise an unprecedented sum for Montana, up to $10 million, to fend off the attacks and tell voters about his record.
The senator accused Montana newspapers of aiding and abetting the Democrats' effort by citing national newspaper reports that Burns is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. Both the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, citing anonymous sources, have said Burns is among a handful of lawmakers being investigated in the Abramoff scandal. The investigation centers on whether there was a quid pro quo, a tit for tat, given by the lawmakers after Abramoff orchestrated the donations, the newspapers have reported.
The Justice Department, as is typical of most law enforcement agencies, refuses to confirm or deny whether Burns or anyone is under investigation.
"Let me tell you that right now very clear," Burns said. "I am not under investigation."
When pressed by reporters, he conceded he has not been told by the Justice Department that he is or isn't under investigation.
Reporters don't know his status either, so they shouldn't report that he is being investigated based on anonymous sources from leaks, Burns said.
"Until I am or I am not (charged), what makes it a story?" he asked.
He scoffed at the claims by the Washington Post, implying that newspaper with a liberal editorial page could not get matters straight on its news pages.
Later in the week, a newspaper with conservative editorials more to Burns' liking, the Washington Times, ran a banner headline and story across the top of the front page. The headline read: "Abramoff-linked probe focuses on 5 lawmakers." Mug shots of the five lawmakers ran with the story, led by Burns.
Burns said everywhere last week he has done nothing wrong.
We'll learn in the coming months whether that's true or whether he's just whistling past the graveyard.
Interesting Op-Ed in today's Billings Gazette from Charles Johnson, the Gazette's Capitol Bureau chief.
I'm glad some Republican is standing up the liberal MSM. But it may be the wrong person to promote the message.
Yep. Far as I can tell, Burns is "damaged goods".
Only Republicans can be corrupt. Dems are white knights in shining armor.
Democrats have proven they can't win at the ballot box, so they're taking the low road.
Burns's recent bold statments against the smear campaign is a test drive to see if his polls rebound. I suspect if his internal polls don't rise to above 50%, then he will step aside and allow Dennis Rehberg to take the Senate seat.
If every Democrat resigned because they have connections to felons, there would be no more DNC.
Denny Rehberg should challenge Burns in the primary.
That would be ill-advised. Burns already regards all of this as a personal point of honor for him. Rehberg boldly challenging him will cause Burns to become even more unmoveable, and no matter whom would emerge from the primary, it would seriously damage us for the general beyond where we already are now. If I were Burns and KNEW I had done nothing wrong, I'd certainly want to clear my name by achieving vindication at the polls.
. . . get rid of voting machine companies like Diebold who vow to deliver elections to Republicans . . .
Proof of that "vow" please.
I see you're pretty new here, so my guess is, your time here will be limited.