Thursday, August 11, 2005

Delay & Abramoff & Friends

Tom, Jack, and Friends

By Josh Eidelson bio
From: Auction House

It can get confusing keeping track of the colorful cast of characters connecting Tom Delay and one of his “closest and dearest friends,” Jack Abramoff. So here are my nominations for Jack Abramoff’s top six associates of questionable repute (feel free to share your own):

Aug 10, 2005 -- 02:30:05 AM EST

Edwin Buckham: Buckham served as DeLay’s Chief of Staff (and pastor) for the three years following his ascension to Majority Leader and helped build his political machine before leaving for the private sector. The same London-Scotland trip DeLay took in 2000 on Abramoff’s credit card included a stay at a golf course hotel in Scotland where food and phone calls were billed, in violation of the same House rule, to Buckham, a registered lobbyist for the Nuclear Energy Institute, AT&T, and Enron. DeLay’s wife, who joined him on the trip, at the time was also on the payroll of Buckham’s lobbying firm, Alexander Strategy Group, which now employs Rudy. ASG office suite is the same one listed as the address of the Korea – U.S. Exchange Council, from which DeLay accepted trips to South Korea, breaking the House rule against trips paid for by registered foreign agents.

Karl Gallant: DeLay appointed Gallant as Executive Director of his PAC, ARMPAC. Gallant served as chairman of the Republican Majority Issues Committee, a voter-ID and turnout group which was the target, with Tom DeLay, of an anti-racketeering lawsuit for illegal coordination. After Gallant left to work with Buckham at Alexander Strategy Group, DeLay helped Enron lobbyists plan a campaign for energy deregulation including hiring Gallant and Buckham through a front group, Americans for Affordable Electricity.

Grover Norquist: In the wake of the ’94 election, DeLay tapped Norquist – with help from Abramoff - to help initiate his “K Street Project” to pressure lobbyists only to hire and donate to Republicans. In May 2001, Norquist asked Abramoff to arrange lunch at the White House between George Bush and two tribal chiefs in exchange for donations to Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. Recently unearthed e-mails from Abramoff contradict Norquist’s earlier claims that the $25,000 and the face-time were unrelated, which he re-iterated in a May letter to tribal leaders. The Justice Department is currently investigating donations of $1.5 million and $250,000, respectively, Abramoff convinced the Choctaws to make to ATR and to another group founded by Norquist and Norton. Evidence subpoenaed by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee demonstrates that Abramoff and Scanloff intentionally funneled cash through nonprofits 501c4s like ATR which are not legally required to disclose donors. Abramoff’s records, released under FOIA, show frequent charges to his clients for consultations with Norquist. In May, the Times suggested that Norquist has begun trying to create distance between himself and the embattled Abramoff, telling reporters not long after Abramoff attended his April wedding that he was a “friend” with whom he had “no business or financial relationship.”

Ralph Reed: As Executive Director of the Christian Coalition, ramped up its advocacy of restrictions on gambling at the request of Scanlon and Abramoff in order to help them get more cash from the tribal chiefs who hired them to block the restrictions. He also pushed the Alabama chapter of the Coalition to lobby against casinos in Alabama that would compete with the Choctaws’ casinos in neighboring Mississippi. Choctaw cash was then laundered back to Reed through Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, which as a 501c(4) was not required to report where the money came from. After he stepped down as head of the Coalition, Reed started a “grassroots coalition” with $4 million from organizations connected to Abramoff to campaign against a Texas tribe competing with a Louisiana tribe represented by Abramoff, who then convinced the Texas tribe to hire him as well. Congressional inquiry has uncovered a long-term e-mail correspondence between Reed and Abramoff coordinating strategy for the gambling campaigns; they traveled to Scotland together with Bob Ney amidst Abramoff’s lobbying to reopen a casino Reed had just lobbied to shut down. Reed has worked with Abramoff and Norquist since the ‘80s, when they led the College Republicans.

Tony Rudy: Tony C. Rudy came to work for DeLay in 1994, serving over the course of five years as General Counsel, Policy Director, Press Secretary, and Deputy Chief of Staff. According to Time, “sources say [Abramoff] developed a particularly close relationship with Tony Rudy.” The two shared hobbies, Abramoff bought Rudy tickets, and Rudy “would frequently e-mail Abramoff from inside Republican leadership meetings on a Motorola pager.” Rudy came along with DeLay on the 2000 European trip charged to Abramoff’s credit card. When Abramoff left Preston Gates & Ellis LLP in 2000 for rival lobbying firm Greenberg Traurig, he convinced Rudy to leave his post as DeLay’s Chief to Staff to help build “Team Abramoff” at Greenberg Traurig. Business Week reported this month that Abramoff was e-mailing Rudy instructions while Rudy was still working for DeLay and under consideration for the Greenberg Traurig job. At Greenberg Traurig, Rudy worked with Abramoff and Mike Scanlon representing the Marianas islands; Abramoff had earlier represented the islands while he was with Preston Gates and Rudy was with DeLay. Every six weeks, Rudy, who now works for Buckham at Alexander Strategy Group, attends a “Team DeLay” meeting with others ex-staffers for DeLay still active in lobbying and politics, convened by former DeLay Legislative Director Drew Maloney.

Michael Scanlon: Scanlon served as a top aid and spokesman for DeLay before leaving to work in lobbying and public relations. While representing tribes opposing restrictions on the operations of their casinos, Scanlon was simultaneously working with Abramoff to press Ralph Reed to get the Christian Coalition to take a more hard-line stance in favor of such restrictions. He and Abramoff also used fake phone banks to inflate the perceived danger to the tribes from the Coalition. Scanlon would use the intensity of the Coalition’s opposition to gambling as a justification for asking the tribes for more cash, some of which would end up with Abramoff and, through Abramoff, with Reed. As part of their “Gimme Five” scheme, Abramoff sent the Choctaw tribe a fake invoice from Scanlon’s consulting firm for $1 million Abramoff and Scanlon split between themselves. Scanlon convinced a pair of his childhood friends to serve on paper as directors of a fictitious “American International Center” which served to launder money back to Scanlon and Abramoff, who was serving at the time as chief fundraiser for George W. Bush.


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