The Scanlon plea …

DeLay’s ex-press secretary, later Abramoff’s business partner, pleads and agrees to cooperate. Cue the “Dragnet” theme music.

.. is big, big news.

1. What do you think the odds are that Federal prosecutors made a deal with Tom DeLay’s former press secretary that didn’t involve his providing evidence against DeLay? Pretty long, I’d say.

2. With Scanlon, who was Abramoff’s partner in the Indian-gaming racket, working for them, prosecutors are likely to be able to nail not only Abramoff but several-to-many Republican Congressfolk. No fewer than 171 Members received contributions from Abramoff. Can you say “albatross”?

3. As the Bloomberg story notes, the problem in making Congressional bribery cases in the “speech and debate” clause, which means that if a Congressman gets paid off to make a floor speech, introduce a bill, or cast a vote, the speech, bill, or vote can’t be used as evidence.

4. “Corruption in Washington” ought to be a winning issue for the Democrats in 2006 and 2008.

5. In that context, a Presidential candidate without experience in trading cattle futures would be a big plus.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: