Making the bribery case especially striking -- and worrisome for members of Congress -- is that some of its elements include transactions that occur in Washington every day. It is commonplace for lawmakers to solicit campaign donations from lobbyists, who routinely offer them in hopes of gaining advantage. Yet Mr. Abramoff also went far beyond routine practice by furnishing lawmakers with lavish trips, free meals and entertainment as well.
It remains unclear which lawmakers prosecutors are looking at, and also how persuasive Mr. Abramoff could be in helping to make potential cases against any of them stick. A onetime chairman of College Republicans -- a close ally of such party luminaries as Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist -- Mr. Abramoff says he has information that could implicate 60 lawmakers.
"The case is significant and the corruption scheme with Mr. Abramoff is very extensive," said Alice Fisher, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's criminal division, at a news conference. She said prosecutors "will continue to follow it wherever it leads."
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