November 14, 2005
More on Cornyn and Abramoff

The Agonist points to an AP wire story about some emails between Ralph Reed and disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is currently under federal indictment for fraud as well as under investigation by the Senate Indian Affairs committee, which link to Texas Senator John Cornyn.

In 2001, Abramoff was working as a lobbyist for the Louisiana Coushatta tribe to prevent rival gaming casinos from siphoning off its Texas customers. He paid Reed as a consultant, and Reed lobbied to get the Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua casinos closed in Texas.

In the Nov. 30, 2001, e-mail, Reed told Abramoff that 50 pastors led by Ed Young, of Second Baptist Church in Houston, would meet with Cornyn to urge him to shut down the Alabama-Coushatta tribe's casino near Livingston, Texas. He said Young would back up the request in writing.

"We have also choreographed Cornyn's response. The AG will state that the law is clear, talk about how much he wants to avoid repetition of El Paso and pledge to take swift action to enforce the law," Reed wrote. "He will also personally hand Ed Young a letter that commits him to take action in Livingston."

Cornyn, now a Republican U.S. senator, had filed a lawsuit in 1999 to shut down a casino operated by the Tigua tribe in El Paso, saying it violated the state's limited gambling laws. In 2002, federal courts shuttered the Tiguas' casino and Cornyn used that ruling to shut down the Alabama-Coushuttas' casino.

Cornyn, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, has denied knowing Abramoff. He also has said he was unaware of Reed's work with Abramoff. He said he did not remember receiving a letter from Young or Reed, or providing a letter to Young, although he acknowledged meeting with the minister.

"Their efforts were irrelevant to what I was doing," said Cornyn, who was elected to the Senate in 2002. "It's kind of eye-opening to me that apparently people make money claiming credit for something I decided to do under the law."

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee, led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blocked out references to Cornyn in the e-mails it released last week. But, in previous Reed e-mails released by the committee, Cornyn's name was not removed.

The previously released e-mails that showed in 2002 Abramoff and Scanlon secretly funneled millions to Reed to help fund the campaign to get the Tigua casino shut down. The lobbyists then persuaded the Tiguas to hire them to reopoen it.


Young said he met Cornyn for the first time at the pastors' meeting in late November 2001 and Cornyn spoke to about 15 to 20 pastors. He also said he did not remember any exchange of letters occurring at the meeting as Reed said in the e-mail.

Cornyn "told us the situation. He was filing affidavits. We said we support you" because of the pastors' concern about gambling, Young said.

Young dismissed Reed's suggestion that Cornyn needed him for support in the 2002 Senate race. He said he stays neutral politically because his church attracts Democrats and Republicans, including Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

The Abramoff/Reed connection to the Alabama Coushattas and Cornyn's work as AG to shut down their casino has been known for over a year. The earlier emails referenced in this piece came out this past April. Other than mentioning Ed Young by name, I don't see a whole lot of advancement in the overall narrative. It would be nice if some reporters at one or more of the big Texas dailies spent a little time checking to see if Cornyn and Young's denials of Cornyn's involvement were really true or not - maybe some of those other pastors might remember things differently, just as a for-instance. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen, though.

A fairly comprehensive accounting of the recently released emails can be found here.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 14, 2005 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

Check out this thread in DU General Discussion:
GOP Dirty Work - Hard Evidence *Ralph Reed *John Cornyn *Abramoff *Scanlon

Posted by: Peter Frank on November 14, 2005 10:11 AM

Charles Kuffner:

I linked this post of yours on Big Lizards; alas, due to the ongoing and widespread Movable Type trackback problem, I got a "403 throttled" error. So please consider this a substitute trackback.

(Fair warning: I linked you as part of a post criticizing Suzanne Gamboa's insinuation against Tom DeLay, though I certainly didn't say anything bad about Off the Kuff.)


Posted by: Dafydd on January 10, 2006 4:31 PM