Abramoff Report Round-Up:
Yesterday marked the release of the much-anticipated Senate Indian Affairs Committee report on the illegal activities of Jack Abramoff and pals. While the report doesn’t provide much new information, especially if you spent your time watching the hearings, it bring the story back into full view and gives a few new bits of info. Unfortunately, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the committee, did not call any members of Congress to testify, however one member gets a special shout-out.
- The Washington Post reports that Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), Representative #1 according to court documents, falsely stated to the committee that he was not aware of "a Texas Indian tribe represented by lobbyist Jack Abramoff" even though he had held numerous meetings with the Tigua tribe and with Abramoff. Ney’s statements have been contradicted by many including the Tiguas themselves and his former chief of staff Neil Volz. Ney’s spokesman stated that the committee meeting with the congressman "was not conducted under oath." So, I’ll take that as an admission that Ney did lie. Paul Kiel will take that as a felony, "You lie to Senate investigators, it’s a felony — regardless of whether you’re under oath or not. Ney might want to ask David Safavian about that — he was just convicted of doing the very same thing."
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on their state’s golden child Ralph Reed’s connections to the Abramoff scandal. Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition and current candidate for Georgia Lt. Governor, received "more than $5 million through a series of corporations to satisfy what they said were Ralph Reed’s political concerns that he would be linked to the cash". The report states that Reed was not involved in any clear wrongdoing, as the majority of the criminal activity did not happen until he was squeezed out, but that his use of front corporations to receive the money deserves further investigation. Reed used his influence among right-wing Christian organizations to stir up grassroots opposition to an Indian casino. The use of third party corporations to receive the money implies that Reed was trying to hide the fact that he was being paid by another tribe that was protecting its gambling operation.
- And finally Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker notes that Italia Federici, the head of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA), lied in her testimony to the committee (which was plainly obvious if you watched her weasel her way through it). Kiel recounts the role that Federici and CREA played in this saga:
Federici had "juice" (as Abramoff put it in an email) at Interior, because she’d worked closely with Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who’d founded CREA. So Abramoff directed his clients to pump money into CREA and asked for a steady stream of favors from Federici. Abramoff’s clients gave $500,000 — a substantial portion of CREA’s funds came from Abramoff. But Federici just won’t admit that Abramoff was buying access. She testified — and I’m not making this up — that she was helpful to Abramoff in order “to be nice.” The committee, unsurprisingly, doesn’t believe her.
The committee thinks that she lied to them and that could mean an indictment is down the road. Indicting Federici immediately puts the Abramoff scandal into the Interior Department as her "juice" was former Deputy Secretary of the Interior J. Stephen Griles, who also gave mealy-mouthed answers to the committee investigators.