Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

March 31st, 2006:

Next up: Ed Buckham

Word is that Tony Rudy’s plea agreement will implicate former DeLay Chief of Staff Ed Buckham, of US Family Network fame (see here, here, and here for more). From Bloomberg:

Supporting documents released with the plea agreement put a third former DeLay aide under scrutiny. While still working for DeLay, the documents said, Rudy received payments to a consulting firm he owned from Abramoff and “Lobbyist B,'” described in the documents as a former DeLay aide who founded his own lobby firm, which Rudy subsequently joined.

That fits the description of former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham, founder of the now-defunct Alexander Strategy Group, which employed Rudy until earlier this year.

There’s more on Rudy’s plea agreement in that story, or you can read the TPMMuckraker summary. Buckham wasn’t explicitly named, but as the Bloomberg story and Roll Call point out, the inference of his presence is pretty strong.

In his plea deal, which was publicly released after Rudy’s formal guilty plea this morning, Rudy officially accuses Buckham – who is identified as “Lobbyist B” in the filings-— of helping set up $50,000 in payments to Rudy’s wife’s consulting firm in order to win Rudy’s help in killing a bill that would have outlawed Internet gaming. Abramoff at the time was representing Internet gambling clients who wanted to keep the practice legal.

While Buckham is not identified in the documents, they leave no doubt that his firm, Alexander Strategy Group, is “Firm 3.”

In addition, the plea agreement says that Rudy, while working as deputy chief of staff for DeLay in 2000, arranged for other House staffers to travel to the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and also secured appropriations money for the CNMI. The Marianas were a long-standing client of Abramoff’s, but the court filings say that Rudy did this work “in part to assist Abramoff, his firm and Lobbyist B with their lobbying businesses.”

Buckham and Abramoff were very close over the years – Abramoff steered donations from his clients into the coffers of nonprofits run by Buckham, such as the U.S. Family Network – and they did work together for some clients.

Buckham is considered the single closest adviser to DeLay, even having served as the lawmaker’s minister.

After leaving DeLay’s office, in addition to running the lobbying firm, Buckham maintained control of DeLay’s political operations by effectively running his political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority PAC, out of his lobbying firm.

TPMMuckraker discusses what a Buckham guilty plea might mean. Keep those seatbelts fastened.

Time to change tactics

HISD is taking the tougher stand they said they would with students who continue to skip class to protest immigration policies, while at the same time encouraging the students to find a more productive way to express themselves.

Just hours after 26 Houston Independent School District students were arrested for walking out of class to protest pending immigration legislation, community leaders urged young people to find better ways to express their feelings.

The walkouts — which also landed 33 Dowling Middle School students and 34 from Madison High School with truancy citations Thursday — need to end, officials said.

“Your message has been heard loud and clear,” school board President Diana Davila said. “We know what you’re fighting for. We know what you believe in, and we now ask that you do it in a fashion where no one will get hurt, where the district won’t have to suspend students.”

HISD leaders made good on their promise to step up sanctions for students who protest but also asked students to find less disruptive ways to make their point.

They’re encouraging informational meetings and letter-writing campaigns as alternative ways to share concerns about proposed immigration laws that could have far-reaching effects for their families and friends living in the United States.

“Everyone needs to make an effort to encourage our young people to remain in school,” Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra said.

[…]

Though fewer students cut class Thursday, police said they had serious concerns about a group of 100 Madison High students found marching near the 1100 block of South Post Oak in the morning. They were on their way to recruit students from nearby Dowling Middle, police spokesman Capt. Dwayne Ready said.

“They are going from school to school, which is disrupting school activities,” Ready said. “We have a safety issue present today that wasn’t as present in the last few days.”

This is appropriate. HISD was as tolerant of this week’s activities as one could reasonably ask them to be, and at this point no one can say they didn’t understand what the consequences for subsequent attempts to walk out would be. Protests like these are effective for getting attention to an issue, but that’s about all they can do. The focus goes away when the protest breaks up, so it’s time to move on to the next level.

Saavedra lauded the efforts of students at Lamar High School, where about 500 students gathered around the flagpole before classes began Thursday morning to discuss the legislation.

Children said the peaceful rally was more effective than the walkouts without getting them into trouble.

“Today, instead of walking out of school, we all walked into school united, together — as students, as human beings,” said Tina Marie Sanchez, 17, a junior at Lamar High.

Her classmate, Zelene Pineda, 17, said it’s important for students to understand the finer points of the debate about the pending bills.

“We had seen the students being portrayed as ignorant and oblivious to the actual causes for the walkouts and the protests,” she said.

“Walking out was not right. What we wanted to do was be smart about it.”

Students are using Internet bulletins to promote weekly informational sessions around the school’s flagpole.

Sharpstown and Reagan high school students have said they’re planning peaceful rallies after school today. A group called Young Immigrants for a Better Future is also planning a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. today at 6601 Hillcroft, the offices of CRECEN, an immigrant rights organization.

“We have to do something so Congress can feel the pressure, but we have to do something in an organized manner,” said Ivonne Moreira, 21, executive director of the group. “There’s ways to do things, not just go crazy.”

That’s exactly right. More power to you, and may you accomplish the goals you work for.

Two down

And we now have two ex-DeLay staffers pleading guilty to felony charges.

Tony Rudy, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, will plead guilty today to one count in connection with the ongoing federal investigation of the activities of disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to law enforcement officials.

The plea from Rudy, who served as DeLay’s deputy chief of staff, comes two days after Abramoff was sentenced to 70 months in prison for fraud in connection with the purchase of a casino-boat company in Miami.

The details of Rudy’s plea were not yet available.

[…]

Former DeLay spokesman Michael Scanlon, who was an Abramoff business partner, has also pleaded guilty to fraud charges in that case.

[…]

DeLay has denied knowledge of his former employees’ activities. DeLay attorney Richard Cullen has said that the Justice Department has not approached the lawmaker seeking information or cooperation.

I’ll say this again: There’s been a lot of baying and yapping in some blogs here over the activities of former Mayor Pro Tem Carol Alvarado’s staff, and how she should have known about their improper activities (as no one has yet been charged with a crime, it’s premature to call anything “illegal” in this situation). If Alvarado should have known what kind of shenanigans her staff was up to, and if she should be held responsible in some way for not exerting more control over them – just so we’re all clear here, I agree that she should have known and that she bears responsibility for not knowing – then shouldn’t the same standard be applied to Tom DeLay and his felonious employees? For some strange reason, I’ve not seen nearly as much electronic ink expended on that topic. I wonder why that is.

UPDATE: More about Mike Scanlon than Tony Rudy, but let this be a lesson to every man who’s ever considered dumping his fiancee for a 24-year-old waitress. Link via Wampum.

UPDATE: Turns out that this story was first reported by Jason Leopold in The Raw Story back in January. You would not know that from the WSJ piece. I have to agree with Jason and with Jeralyn that it was wrong on the WSJ’s part to not acknowledge Jason’s earlier work.

Quarter time

As The Jeffersonian reminds us, today is the end of the quarter, so if you’ve been planning to make a donation to your favorite candidate, today is a great day to do it. He’s got a suggested list of Congressional candidates to consider, all of whom are worth your time to look. I’d add a couple more to his list:

Mary Beth Harrell in CD31 – see Eye on Williamson for more.

David Harris in CD06, who has been writing about immigration and national security lately.

In Harris County, there’s Gary Binderim in CD02, Jim Henley in CD07, and Ted Ankrum, who still has a runoff to win, in CD10. And of course the statewide candidates – BAR, Chris Bell, David Van Os, and so on. Whether you have any of these folks in mind or someone else, today’s the day to make it happen.

Courage challenges Smith on immigration

Matt brings us a message from John Courage to anti-immigrant Congressman Lamar Smith, who continues to be out of the mainstream on the subject. Check it out.

Courage will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser headlined by Senator Russ Feingold in April. If you’re in Austin and you want to support a good candidate, there’s a fine opportunity for you. If you don’t want to wait that long, there’s also Matt’s house party tonight in San Antonio. Every little bit helps.