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updated 1/9/2006 1:59:57 PM ET 2006-01-09T18:59:57
STORY

That Abramoff scandal itself was possibly kicked off by a jilted fiancee, if the political blog Raw Story is to be believed.  And now it seems, a group of Washington women who actually made it down the aisle may be in legal jeopardy because of it.

In addition to the luxury golf trips, the Super Bowl tickets, and the bundles of campaign cash, turns out Jack Abramoff was also compensating the wives of lawmakers handsomely for jobs requiring them to do not much.

Chief Washington correspondent, Norah O'Donnell, James Grimaldi of “The Washington Post” and Fred Wertheimer, campaign finance reform advocate  discussed the recent allegations and reported on Countdown.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

NORAH O'DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Superlobbyist Jack Abramoff admits trying to bribe members of Congress to win favors by providing lavish golf trips, free meals at his restaurant, and money.

But now, investigators want to know if Abramoff was also trying to win influence with the spouses of congressmen in what investigators privately call the wives' club.

JAMES GRIMALDI, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  We know the Justice Department is looking at flows of money to congressional spouses, including Christine DeLay, to see if they were in any way tied to specific acts or actions by lawmakers, including Tom DeLay.

O'DONNELL:  DeLay's attorney confirms to MSNBC that Christine DeLay worked for a lobbying firm run by former DeLay staffers with close ties to Jack Abramoff.  That firm, the Alexander Strategy Group, hired Christine DeLay and paid her $115,000 over three years to perform a special project, contacting members of Congress to find out their favorite charity.

DeLay's attorney said she's done nothing wrong.

Also facing scrutiny, the wife of Republican John Doolittle.  Abramoff's sham charity, the Capital Athletic Foundation, hired Doolittle's wife for fundraising.

FRED WERTHEIMER, CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM ADVOCATE:  This is a way of directly funneling money to the benefit of the lawmaker by providing it to the lawmaker's spouse.

O'DONNELL:  This week, Abramoff admitted to investigators he directed favors to a senior DeLay staffer, identified as Tony Rudy, now a lobbyist.  And court papers indicate those favors came in the form of cash, $50,000, to Tony Rudy's wife, Lisa Rudy, through a charity organization, all in what Abramoff now admits was one more way for him to carry out a bribe in hopes of winning legislative favors.

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