Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sen. Burns hires a lawyer

Republican Conrad Burns of Montana earlier this year looked like a shoe-in for re-election this fall. A Republican in a red state with already one Democratic senator in Max Baucus, well, the guy can't lose, right?

Wrong. Mr. Burns is deeply entangled in the Jack Abramoff scandal, which is not "excellent" for the three term senator.

From AP:

Montana Sen. Conrad Burns has retained a lawyer who specializes in white-collar crime and congressional investigations, his campaign confirmed Tuesday.

Campaign spokesman Jason Klindt said Burns has hired Ralph Caccia, a Washington partner with the law firm Powell Goldstein.

Montana Democrats have played up Burns links to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty as part of a federal corruption investigation earlier this year. Abramoff is cooperating with prosecutors investigating influence-peddling on Capitol Hill.

Burns received about $150,000 in campaign donations from Abramoff and his associates, which he has since donated or returned. In March, Abramoff told Vanity Fair magazine that his lobbying firm got "every appropriation we wanted" from Burns' Senate committee, adding that his staff members were "as close as they could be" with the Montana Republican's staff.

Burns' Democratic opponent hasn't even been chosen, but the longtime Montana senator is vulnerable.

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