Few are saying it outright, but the first casualty of the Jack Abramoff scandal may well be Tom Delay.

The embattled Texas congressman announced Saturday that he would not return as House majority leader next year. He had temporarily given up the post when criminal charges unrelated to Abramoff were filed against him in Texas.

His name has surfaced often in connection with Mr. Abramoff. Fellow Republicans wanted him off the job, hoping the taint wouldn't spread to their own re-election campaigns.

Congressional analysts say as many as six sitting Congressmen could be taken down by the brewing scandal. Mr. Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion. He agreed to cooperate with federal investigators. His e-mails and other documents were turned over to prosecutors.

The probe over the next few months will expose the unseemly world of Washington lobbying. An Associated Press analysis of the issue says lobbyists play an important role in the process but Mr. Abramoff broke some unwritten rules of his profession: Don't gloat, don't be too greedy, don't say out loud what you're doing and don't ever, ever put in writing what you don't have to.

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