The fallout from lobbyist Jack Abramoff will no doubt be fodder for many 2006 Congressional campaigns throughout the country. Some Washington insiders have speculated that as many as 60 races could be affected by Mr. Abramoff's tainted money.

So the rush is on to return political donations from the fallen lobbyist who has agreed to testify in a political corruption investigation. He pleaded guilty to fraud, corruption and tax evasion this week.

President George Bush, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have announced they will return contributions associated with Abramoff or give them to charities. Oklahoma Rep. Ernest Istook, an announced candidate for governor, has agreed to return contributions he received.

Mr. Abramoff has reportedly agreed to tell the FBI about bribes to lawmakers and their aides. It will make for interesting news and campaign dirt.

Lawmakers that are unscathed by the scandal should focus on the bigger picture emerging here: The age-old relationship between campaign contributions and lobbying. It's nothing new but Mr. Abramoff's plea has put a tangible face on the practice.

We don't believe as some jaded few have opined that our elected leaders are the type to be tempted with outright bribes. Most are honorable men and women of character who go to our nation's capitol with a noble goal of serving constituents and making a better and stronger America.

Contributions don't buy legislation but they certainly can buy access and that can lead to undue influence on issues where the representative is having trouble deciding which way to lean.

Mr. Abramoff's plea and expected testimony will put an election-year focus on a very broken political system. We hope significant reforms emerge from the scandal.

This Week's Circulars