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Americans want lobby records disclosed to public { January 27 2006 }

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   http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/27/AR2006012700335.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/27/AR2006012700335.html

Majority Believe White House Should Release Abramoff Records

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.

2006 The Washington Post Company



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