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Abramoff scandal reaches Ralph Reed

According to The Nation, the burgeoning scandal/investigation into the activities of DeLay cohorts Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon is about to reach out and touch former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed.

In early 2002 the Coushatta tribe of Louisiana was desperately trying to kill a planned competing casino that the rival Jena Band wanted to build in southwestern Louisiana. This new casino would have broken the Coushattas’ geographical monopoly and cost the tribe–whose casino was grossing $300 million a year– an estimated $1 billion in gambling revenue over five years. The Jena Band had hired former GOP national chairman Haley Barbour to make sure its casino compact was approved by the heavily politicized Bureau of Indian Affairs. So the Coushatta tribe, which already was in the process of paying Abramoff and Scanlon some $32 million over three years, also hired Reed, according to three witnesses and documents obtained by The Nation. This was not a crime, just furtive hypocrisy.

Two casino industry lobbyists–Philip Thompson and Bill Grimes–say they were in a meeting in Baton Rouge early in 2002 and heard William Worfel, vice chair of the Coushatta tribe, say he was hiring Reed to lobby for the tribe with the BIA to neutralize the influence Barbour had with the Bush Administration. According to Thompson, Worfel, who also did not return phone calls, “said he was putting Reed on his payroll. He said, ‘If they have Barbour, we need Reed.'” A third casino lobbyist at the meeting, who requested anonymity, says Reed helped “mobilize Christian radio and ministers against the casino.” But, he says, “He wanted to be able to deny it. Or if it came out, he wanted to be able to claim he was against the Jena casino, without anybody knowing he was getting paid by a bigger tribe with a bigger gambling operation.”

The documents obtained by The Nation show that Reed sent bills to Abramoff and Scanlon and that one of his consulting companies, Century Strategies of Duluth, Georgia, received $250,000 from one of Scanlon’s companies, Capitol Campaign Strategies. An invoice to Abramoff from another Reed company, Capitol Media, for $100,000, states only that the payment is for “Louisiana Project Mgmt. Fee.” (The main thrust of the Justice Department investigation involves money laundering among Scanlon, Abramoff and Republican campaigns. Abramoff was fired by his firm for not disclosing $10 million in payments from Scanlon.)

Liberal Oasis linked to this yesterday. You can find some more background on the Abramoff/Scanlon story here, here, here, and here.

And speaking of Abramoff and the Senate investigation, the next stop may be Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Court officials have heard through “unofficial channels” that a Senate investigative committee may visit the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam to investigate lobbying activities.

“The court has not received any visits or any inquiries yet thus far from any Senate staff or any Senate officials,” said Dan Tydingco, the Judiciary of Guam director of policy, planning and community relations. “But we have heard from unofficial channels that there was to be a Senate investigative committee coming out to Guam and (CNMI) to investigate the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff.”

Tydingco, who was the former Supreme Court executive officer, said Abramoff did not do lobbying work for the Supreme Court and would not comment on what type of work he did for the Superior Court of Guam. Tydingco did not know when the committee will come to Guam.

A Senate committee is investigating millions of dollars in fees paid to powerful Republican lobbyist Abramoff and public relations executive Michael Scanlon, according to a May 18 Washington Post article.

Scanlon, a former aide to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and Abramoff, a top Republican lobbyist and adviser to DeLay, are both under investigation by the Senate Commerce Committee. The panel, under the direction of Sen. John McCain, is seeking to determine the legality of $45 million paid by Indian tribes to the pair for lobbying and public affairs work, the Washington Post reported.

Tydingco could not say what the connection was between Abramoff and former Superior Court lobbyist Howard Hills.

Former Superior Court Administrator Tony Sanchez has said the court hired Hills, an off-island attorney, in 2002 to do work for the court, including lobbying against a proposed federal legislation that would make the Supreme Court of Guam the head of Guam’s judicial branch of government. The Superior Court paid Hills about $500,000 for his work, according to Pacific Daily News files.

I don’t know about you, but those places sound to me like they’d be pretty good for stashing money that you’d rather not have to explain. Thanks as always to AJ Garcia for the tip.

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2 Comments

  1. nosey online says:

    The Righteous

    You can’t begin to understand my happiness about this. I despise everything about Ralph Reed and his moral high-ground. (Via Charles) In early 2002 the Coushatta tribe of Louisiana was desperately trying to kill a planned competing casino that the…

  2. TheAZCowBoy says:

    Ahhh, Senor Abramoff – He makes me remember “Whitewater” and what the GOP’s millions got them – nada!

    I’ll bet my dozen doughnuts to your 1 bagal that the 5006 elections will be “Elecrifying!” 🙁 Or have they outlawed the electric chair in D.C.? 🙂

    I say the GOP loses 6 seats and 3 of them “losers” end up in the slammer! (Or playing the canary role).

    TheAZCowBoy
    Tombstone, AZ.