Video: Abramoff scandal's effects

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updated 1/3/2006 7:30:00 PM ET 2006-01-04T00:30:00

Ohio Republican Congressman Robert Ney is but one of at least a half dozen members of Congress who have reason to sweat Jack Abramoff's guilty plea Tuesday to federal charges charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud.

Law enforcement sources say also under scrutiny are:

All three deny wrongdoing and say there was no connection between alleged favors from Abramoff and their official acts.

"I think this is clearly the biggest scandal in the last 40 years," says Democrat Stan Brand, a former federal prosecutor.

Brand says most casualties are likely to be Republicans, but there could be some Democrats.

"You're looking at the potential, I think, for six or more, up to 10-12 individual members of Congress being charged with crimes," says Brand, "as well as numerous staff people and members of the executive branch."

Eighteen members of Congress were on a list to get free meals at an Abramoff restaurant, according to former employees.

Two dozen members of Congress, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Senate Minority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., received hefty campaign contributions from Abramoff’s clients — at least five members have promised to return almost $300,000.

Former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., says this saga proves how broken the system is. 

"This is about greed and power and arrogance," Simpson says.

As of Tuesday night, at least 40 federal prosecutors and FBI agents are working to unravel the web of influence peddling, which is likely to provoke sleepless nights for dozens of members of Congress.

Lisa Myers is NBC’s senior investigative correspondent

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