Twice this year I’ve been astonished to see Ralph Reed’s mug appear in election coverage. After the New Hampshire primaries... View ArticleContinue reading
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If Jack Abramoff were a horror movie monster I would not want to be Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio), AKA Bob Ney. Last night, the former wonderboy of the Right Ralph Reed lost convincingly in the Georgia Lt. Governor Republican primary to Casey Cagle, 54%-46%. Reed saw his stock plummet as the lobbying and grassroots work he did with his buddy Jack Abramoff poured out of Senate hearings and court documents into the newspapers. The former head of the Christian Coalition, his eyes set on the Presidency, felled himself by showing his true colors. Mike Crowley at TNR’s The Plank writes that “Jack Abramoff can so far be officially credited with destroying three careers (Reed, Tom DeLay, and David Safavian).” Despite what some have said the money-in-politics scandals are taking their toll on Washington.Continue reading
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.
- Ed Buckham, the former chief of staff and religious advisor to former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), collected over $1 million through a non-profit group created while he was still under DeLay’s employ. (Washington Post) TPM Muckraker has been following Buckham’s money trail for some time. Check out their three parts series here, here, and here.
- The founder of “compassionate conservatism” Marvin Olasky is assailing former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed over his connections and dealings with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. (Washington Post)
- Robert Novak claims that Jack Abramoff is clearing DeLay from charges of corruption in his talks with investigators. Of course, the steady stream of stories like the Washington Post Ed Buckham story indicates that Abramoff is not the only corrupting influence on Capitol Hill. (Townhall.com)
- Laura Rozen notes that the wife of the mysterious Thommas Kontogiannis – one of the alleged bribers in the Duke Cunningham corruption case – gave “$18,000 to eighteen vulnerable Republican US House candidates” in 2004. Rozen writes, “These are not her local candidates, or broad nationally known candidates. Who was directing these payments to these obscure, vulnerable national Republican candidates? Who gave the Kontogiannis the Republican House play map? These payments suggest a degree of connection to someone far more central to the GOP House machine than even Cunningham.” (War and Piece)
In an “ongoing” and “broad-scale look” the Senate Finance Committee is preparing to delve into a “probe of nonprofits and foundations seeking to determine whether tax-exempt entities have abused their privilege in pursuit of political goals, including an examination of Abramoff-linked charities.” According to Roll Call, Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that “he was not yet certain that there would be any hearings on the overall investigation into nonprofit abuse … but said any report or hearings held by his panel would cover a wide range of nonprofit activities, and not just focus on those associated with Abramoff.” A hearing would likely focus attention on how Abramoff used client money funneled through a non-profit to pay for the infamous Scotland golfing trip that included Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), Religious Right activist Ralph Reed, and former procurement official David Safavian.Continue reading
The Senate Finance Committee received close to 100 pages of documents on the abuse of non-profits by Jack Abramoff from the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. According to Roll Call, “the Abramoff documents would be part of an ongoing probe into whether some nonprofits are violating laws by taking http://www.sunlightfoundation.com/cs/corruption Today in Corruptionon roles beyond what their tax-exempt status allows.” The Finance probe could shine unwanted light on the activities of Abramoff allies Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform and the former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed. “Reed, a self-proclaimed opponent of gambling, sometimes received payments from Abramoff — money that originated from tribes who operated wealthy casinos — after it had first been routed through Norquist’s anti-tax group or other Abramoff-linked entities.”Continue reading
A subpoena issued to the U.S. Family Network relating to its relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff mentions former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Reed was named along with another long-time Abramoff friend Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform. Reed denies any wrongdoing.
Justice Department prosecutors issued subpoenas for the records of the U.S. Family Network, a non-profit started in 1996 by Ed Buckham, then-chief of staff to Tom DeLay (R-TX). According to the National Journal, of particular interest to prosecutors is a $15,600 payment by the U.S. Family Network “to Liberty Consulting, a firm run by Lisa Rudy, the wife of Tony Rudy, who was a deputy chief of staff to DeLay before becoming a lobbying colleague of Abramoff's.” Tony Rudy has subsequently been named in Abramoff’s plea agreement with federal prosecutors. Named in the subpoena of the U.S. Family Network are Tony and Lisa Rudy; Ed Buckham and his wife, Wendy; “several dozen other individuals and groups that have been linked to Abramoff by investigators and news reports;” and Abramoff associates Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist.Continue reading