does this mean he has to un-fix the tickets he fixed??? or undo whatever he did to get the money???

Shadegg gets rid of tainted donations $6,944 linked to ethics scandal

Billy House and Jon Kamman The Arizona Republic Jan. 12, 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - Arizona GOP Rep. John Shadegg last month shed more than $6,900 in campaign contributions from sources connected with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has confessed to bilking Indian tribes and buying political influence.

Shadegg's office on Wednesday confirmed that his campaign fund has returned one tribal contribution and donated to charities five others that had come to him through a partner of Abramoff and the political arm of the lobbyist's employer.

One of the contributions went undisclosed for five years in violation of federal campaign-finance rules.

Shadegg's receipt of campaign funds from Abramoff affiliates comes to light as the Arizona congressman has emerged as a potential reform candidate in the race to succeed Tom DeLay, R-Texas, as House majority leader, the No. 2 position in the chamber.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Shadegg said, "I think we need to clean up our act in the wake of the recent ethics scandals and get back to the agenda that brought us the majority in the first place."

Sean Noble, a campaign spokesman and chief of Shadegg's Arizona staff, said three contributions involved Shadegg's use of sports suites provided to him for fund-raisers at hockey and basketball games at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C., and one fund-raising dinner paid for by Abramoff partner Kevin Ring. The total value was calculated as $5,444.

The skyboxes were leased in Abramoff's name and parceled out at his discretion for others to use. Some of his clients, Indian tribes with gambling interests, footed the bill.

If food, entertainment or a venue for a fund-raiser are paid for by anyone other than the politician's campaign fund, the value must be disclosed as an in-kind contribution in reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Two cash contributions, $500 from Ring and $1,000 from the PAC at the Greenberg Traurig law firm, brought Shadegg's total to $6,944.

Noble said the campaign returned $1,388 to the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, a former Abramoff client; donated $1,500 to the Phoenix-area Native American Connections charity; and sent the remaining $4,056 to the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling.

Shadegg has been a consistent opponent of gambling, Noble said.

Using the skybox paid for by the Chitimachas in 1999 and accepting $500 from Arizona's Gila River Indians were the only times Shadegg knowingly accepted help from tribes with gaming operations and after that set a policy of not accepting such contributions, Noble said.

Although Shadegg's campaign reported the value of the skyboxes used in 1999 and 2003, use of the box on Feb. 28, 2000, was not reported to the FEC until early last year.

It was the second case of an Arizona congressman neglecting to file timely reports on the value of a skybox provided by Abramoff interests.

In December 2004, GOP Rep. J.D. Hayworth acknowledged that he had used Abramoff-connected skyboxes five times from 1999 to 2001 but failed to disclose the value in FEC filings. His campaign fund returned nearly $13,000 to two tribes who had underwritten the cost of the suites.

Noble said the need to report the value "slipped through the cracks" because the lobbying firm that arranged use of the box never provided a statement showing its value. Hayworth's campaign had cited the same problem more than a year ago.

Noble said that five years after the 2000 event, the lobbying firm where Ring had worked and arranged use of the skybox told the campaign it did not know which of its clients provided the place. Shadegg knew only that Ring had set it up and did not know who was the underlying source of the in-kind contribution, Noble said.

Noble and Michael Steel, a Shadegg spokesman, said the congressman should not be harmed by revelations of what they called Shadegg's distant connections with Abramoff-related funds.

At least 40 members of Congress in recent days have returned or donated to charity hundreds of thousands of dollars received from the lobbyist and his clients.

Hayworth, whose receipts from tribes during their representation by Abramoff total about $100,000, said he is giving to charity $2,250 that the lobbyist donated himself.

In Shadegg's case, Steel said, "He's said it before, and it's worth saying again and again: He never got a dollar from Abramoff. He's never met Jack Abramoff."

Noble said that as the magnitude of Abramoff's "sleaziness" became increasingly clear, the congressman ordered a search of campaign records and found the contributions. He emphasized that the contributions were legal.

Shadegg's distancing himself from the money came about six months after Ring, who had been instrumental in all of the campaign donations, took the Fifth Amendment when called to testify as part of an 18-month probe by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, chaired by Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain.

Noble said Shadegg's colleagues should recognize that Shadegg moved to rid himself of the money even before Abramoff agreed on Jan. 3 to plead guilty to felony charges and cooperate with investigators looking into possible bribery.

Some House members, such as Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., are portraying Shadegg as a possible insurgent candidate for House majority leader who would bring reforms and who could help the GOP overcome the damage of the mushrooming lobbying scandals tied to Abramoff and his former clients.

Two declared candidates who are viewed as the frontrunners to replace DeLay are Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio. They have extensive ties to lobbyists, Flake and others say.

Shadegg, who holds the No. 5 post among House Republicans as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, said in a statement that he is "concerned that the two members currently in the race, whom I have a great deal of respect for, will not move aggressively enough" in repairing damage from the scandal.

The 231 House Republicans will vote on a new leader Feb. 2 by secret ballot.

Meanwhile, Hayworth's office, responding to a story published Wednesday in the Washington Times, said he welcomes possible scrutiny by the Justice Department of his activities tied to Abramoff and the lobbyist's tribal clients.

The Times, citing unnamed sources, reported that Hayworth is among the "first tier" of lawmakers and congressional staffers being looked at in an opening phase of the Justice Department's investigation of influence peddling on Capitol Hill.

Hayworth spokesman Larry VanHoose said neither the congressman nor anyone on his staff has had contact with federal investigators. His office has repeatedly said that the congressman has done nothing unethical or illegal and has long represented Indian interests as co-chairman of the Native American Congressional Caucus.

Gannett News Service reporter Ana Radelat contributed to this article.

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