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The Color Purple

In July, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D.-N.D.), vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, had some choice things to say to Time magazine about conservatives who had received money from now-indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who made millions representing various Indian tribes.

Reported Time: “The fact that Abramoff-controlled tribal money found its way to the highest levels of conservative power in the country is making a lot of people nervous. ‘If you painted that money purple, there’d be a lot of purple pockets around town,’ says Sen. Byron Dorgan.”

Some of those pockets, it turns out, are in Dorgan’s own pants.

The Associated Press reports that Dorgan, whose committee is investigating Abramoff’s dealings, “had his own connections to the controversial lobbyist’s team and clients, using his sports arena skybox to raise money.”

The Washington Post reported of Dorgan: “Aides conceded that the senator did advocate for programs pushed by Abramoff clients around the time he was accepting tens of thousands of dollars from associates and clients of the lobbyist.” For example, reported the Post, “He did press the Interior Department in 2003 to decide whether the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts deserved federal recognition, around the time he accepted at least $11,500 from an Abramoff partner representing the tribe.”

Last week, Dorgan returned $67,000 originally from Indian tribes represented by Abramoff. As for using Abramoff’s skybox for a fundraiser, Dorgan’s spokesman Barry Piatt told the AP: “He was told the skybox was the Choctaws.” That is another tribe for which Abramoff lobbied.

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