Bush To Give Back Abramoff Funds

Jack Abramoff, foreground, leaves Federal Court in Washington Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2006. The once-powerful lobbyist pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud, agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors investigating influence peddling that has threatened powerful members of the U.S. Congress. At right is his attorney Abbe Lowell.
Wanting to avoid any link to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the White House said Wednesday that President Bush's re-election campaign was donating $6,000 in contributions from Abramoff, his wife and an Indian tribe he represented to charity.

The money will be donated to the American Heart Association, reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.

Abramoff pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges related to Congressional bribery and has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. He was due in federal court in Miami later Wednesday to plead guilty to more charges stemming from his purchases of a Florida gambling boat fleet called SunCruz.

Abramoff raised at least $100,000 for Mr. Bush's 2004 re-election effort, earning the honorary title "pioneer" from the campaign. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the president does not remember meeting the former lobbyist, although Abramoff was a guest at three White House Hanukkah receptions.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., also announced plans to give away Abramoff's campaign contributions. DeLay's office confirmed to CBS News that he will donate $15,000 in Abramoff-related donations to charities. DeLay is now awaiting trial in Texas on charges of laundering campaign money used in races for the state legislature.

Read the government's plea agreement with Jack Abramoff

Abramoff's plea Wednesday to charges of tax evasion, conspiracy and fraud could spell trouble for some of Washington's top power brokers, including more than a dozen members of Congress, reports CBS News national political correspondent Gloria Borger.

The deal came after two years of intense federal investigation and months of negotiation with Abramoff's lawyers

The full extent of the investigation is not yet known, but Justice Department officials said Tuesday they intended to make use of the trove of e-mails and other material in Abramoff's possession.

"The corruption scheme with Mr. Abramoff is very extensive and we will continue to follow it wherever it leads," said Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, head of the Justice Department's criminal division.