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Enriching Ed

This WaPo piece is a companion to the National Journal piece whose excerpts were in TPM Muckraker that I linked to over the weekend. It’s about DeLay buddy and former Chief of Staff Ed Buckham and the money he made via a phony nonprofit that got much of its money from Russian oil interests that sought to influence how DeLay voted on key legislation. A few highlights for you:

A top adviser to former House Whip Tom DeLay received more than a third of all the money collected by the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit organization the adviser created to promote a pro-family political agenda in Congress, according to the group’s accounting records.

DeLay’s former chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, who helped create the group while still in DeLay’s employ, and his wife, Wendy, were the principal beneficiaries of the group’s $3.02 million in revenue, collecting payments totaling $1,022,729 during a five-year period ending in 2001, public and private records show.

The group’s revenue was drawn mostly from clients of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to its records. From an FBI subpoena for the records, it can be inferred that the bureau is exploring whether there were links between the payments and favorable legislative treatment of Abramoff’s clients by DeLay’s office.

[…]

The group’s payments to the Buckhams — in the form of a monthly retainer as well as commissions on donations by Abramoff’s clients — overlapped briefly with Edwin Buckham’s service as chief of staff to DeLay and continued during his subsequent role as DeLay’s chief political adviser.

During this latter period, Buckham and his wife, Wendy, acting through their consulting firm, made monthly payments averaging $3,200-$3,400 apiece to DeLay’s wife, Christine, for three of the years in which he collected money from the USFN and some other clients.

[…]

Wendy Buckham was not the only spouse of a DeLay staffer to benefit from the USFN revenue stream sustained by Abramoff’s clients. A consulting firm owned by the wife of Tony C. Rudy, DeLay’s deputy chief of staff, was paid $15,600 by the group in 1999 and another $10,400 in 2000. Rudy resigned to work with Abramoff in 2001. It could not be determined what the payments were for.

[…]

Records obtained by federal investigators after [a previous article in The Post] appeared and reviewed by The Post make clear just how unusual USFN’s spending was. Its revenue was lavished not only on DeLay’s advisers but on a variety of expenses that experts say are atypical for such a small nonprofit: $62,375 for wall art, a vase listed at $20,100, airfare and meals for Abramoff that cost $11,548, and $267,202 in travel and entertainment expenses that appear to have benefited mostly Buckham, the group’s board members, and its tiny staff.

“They were using donor funds for interior decorating,” said Chris Geeslin, a pastor in Frederick, Md., who between 1998 and 2001 served as one of the group’s directors and then its president. He blamed what he described as the group’s misspending on Buckham, who he said “would tell us where you should put things. He orchestrated all this. . . . He used us.”

Emphasis mine. That’s now a Chief of Staff and a Deputy Chief of Staff for DeLay who are under investigation for being seriously crooked. Quite the office you ran there, Tom.

Link via Josh Marshall, who includes this tidbit:

Like Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) and Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY), Buckham siphoned off funds off of political contributions and converted them into personal income by having his wife take ‘commissions’ for a nominal role as fundraiser. Her cut was 10%.

In 1997, for instance, on $524,975 contributed by a handful of Abramoff clients, Wendy Buckham pocketed $43,000 in ‘commissions.’

The family that siphons together stays together, I suppose.

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