John C. Albaugh, ex-Chief of Staff to former Representative Ernest J. Istook (R-OK), pleaded guilty in Federal District Court this afternoon of attempting to defraud the United States House of Representatives as part of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.
He faces up to two years in prison, although he may receive a lesser sentence should he decide to cooperate with federal prosecutors in the ongoing criminal investigation of the congressional lobbying probe.
Albaugh admitted to a federal judge that he misused his official position in exchange for gifts. Albaugh accepted the gifts in return for illegal favors on behalf of lobbyists, including lobbyists connected to the Jack Abramoff scandal.
Albaugh, who, according to online reports, was most recently connected with an Atlanta-based firm, Renaissance Development Corporation, as Partner, worked eight years as Istook's top Congressional lieutenant when allegations concerning the Abramoff affair first surfaced.
Istook left the House of Representatives in 2007. He was the Republican gubernatorial candidate for Oklahoma in 2006, but lost to incumbent Democratic Governor Brad Henry.
Ernest J. Istook, Jr. was first elected to the United States House of Representatives from Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District in November, 1992.
Ironically, Istook successfully challenged Deputy House Minority Whip Mickey Edwards by exploiting Edwards' involvement in the U.S. House banking scandal. Istook handily won in the General Election as the 5th Congressional District is considered the most conservative House seat in Oklahoma.
While in Congress Istook championed conservative special interests: he opposed abortion, human rights for gay and lesbian Americans, and embryonic stem cell research. He supported a ban on adoption of children by same-sex families and favored two controversial amendments to the United States Constitution: one prohibiting the burning of the American flag and another banning same-sex marriage.
Istook also sponsored legislation that would amend the U.S. Constitution to permit prayer in the public school system. He has opposed universal health care and supports privatization of the Social Security System through the creation of individual savings accounts.
Currently, Istook is employed at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., hosts a right-wing radio talk show, and blogs on Istook-isms [website].
According to the AP, Istook accepted tens of thousands of dollars from Abramoff and his associates while serving in the Congress, and used Abramoff's paid skybox for concerts.