2006-01-28 01:02:01 UTC
By Richard Morin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 27, 2006; 10:27 AM
A strong bipartisan majority of the public believes President Bush should
disclose all contacts between disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and White
House staffers despite administration claims that media requests for details
about those contacts amount to a "fishing expedition," according to a new
Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey found that three in four--76 percent--of all Americans said Bush
should disclose contacts between aides and Abramoff while 18 percent
disagreed. Two in three Republicans joined with eight in 10 Democrats and
political independents in favoring disclosure, according to the poll.
At a Thursday news conference, the president declined to discuss those
meetings but said federal investigators are "welcome" to look into them if
they suspect wrongdoing. Last week, Bush press secretary Scott McClellan,
pressured by reporters to explain Abramoff's contacts with the Bush
administration, said, "We're not going to engage in a fishing expedition."
Earlier this month, Abramoff pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy and fraud
charges. A plea agreement said Abramoff bribed public officials, including a
member of Congress.
Questions about White House contact with Abramoff came as special prosecutor
Patrick Fitzgerald continues an unrelated investigation to determine who
leaked the name of an undercover CIA operative to reporters. That
investigation already has produced charges against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby
, former top aide to Vice President Cheney. Libby is accused of lying to FBI
agents and a federal grand jury.
The twin scandals have done little to help the battered public image of the
Bush White House and Congress. The new poll found that 56 percent of the
public disapproved of the way that Bush is handling ethics in government, up
7 percentage points in the past five weeks. An equally large majority say
the type of wrongdoing admitted by Abramoff is "widespread" in Washington.
Abramoff has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators whose targets
reportedly include several members of Congress as well as ranking officials
within the executive branch.
In Congress, both parties have scrambled to put together lobbying reform
packages as the November midterm elections loom on the horizon.
But Americans are divided over whether Congress is serious about passing
reform legislation. About half--51 percent--of those surveyed said they
doubted Congress would pass tough new lobbying restrictions in the coming
year while 46 percent said it was likely.
A total of 1,002 randomly selected adults were interviewed nationally Jan.
23-26 for this telephone survey. The margin of sampling error for the
overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of
ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large
corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The
ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure
military production (in developed states), but also as an additional
means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often
pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of
interests, especially in the repression of have-not citizens."