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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Will Simmons return Abramoff's money?

The Democrats are demanding that Rep. Rob Simmons (R-2nd District) return money he received from Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist who was recently indicted in Flordia.

From the Norwich Bulletin

The Democratic Party called on Rep. Rob Simmons Tuesday to return $1,250 in campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff, a former top Republican lobbyist who last week was indicted in connection with his purchase of a casino cruise line in Florida.

"Will Congressman Simmons send back the tainted contributions from the indicted super-lobbyist?"

Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement.

Simmons chief of staff, Todd Mitchell, declined to answer, noting that the congressman was working hard to save the Groton submarine base from being closed in this year's round of military base closings.

"We're deep in the fourth quarter of the (base-closing) process and we're not going to comment on these stupid political games that the national Democrats are playing," Mitchell said.

It's standard practice for politicians to return donations by donors whose activities have drawn law enforcement scrutiny, said Christopher Barnes of the University of Connecticut's Department of Public Policy.

But the amount of money involved and the scandal surrounding Abramoff aren't significant enough to taint Simmons, at least for the moment, Barnes said.

If the submarine base is ultimately closed and Simmons is in political peril, the donations by Abramoff could count against him, Barnes said.

"It's one of the those things that can stack up against someone," Barnes said.