The Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal
relating to the work performed by political
, Ralph E. Reed, Jr.
, Grover Norquist
and Michael Scanlon
on Indian casino
gambling interests for an
estimated $85 million in fees. Abramoff and Scanlon grossly
overbilled their clients, secretly splitting the
multimillion-dollar profits. In one case, they secretly
orchestrated lobbying against their own clients in order to force
them to pay for lobbying services.
In the course of the scheme, the lobbyists were accused of
illegally giving gifts and making campaign donations to legislators
in return for votes or support of legislation. Representative
(R-OH) and two aides to Tom DeLay
(R-TX) have been directly implicated;
other politicians, mostly Republican lawmakers with connections to
Indian affairs, have various ties.
Scanlon and Abramoff have both pleaded guilty to a variety of
charges related to the scheme.
On January 3, 2006, Abramoff pled guilty to three felony counts —
conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion — involving charges stemming
principally from his lobbying activities in Washington on behalf of
Native American tribes. In addition, Abramoff and other defendants
must make restitution of at least $25 million that was defrauded
from clients, most notably the Native American tribes. Further,
Abramoff owes the Internal Revenue Service $1.7 million as a result
of his guilty plea to the tax evasion charge. The court filing is
available as a PDF.
On May 8, 2006, Neil Volz
, former chief of
staff to Representative Bob Ney
staff director of the House Administration Committee, and later
part of Team Abramoff
, pleaded guilty
to one count of conspiracy, including wire fraud and violating
House rules, charges stemming from his work both for Ney and for
On October 13, 2006, Rep. Bob Ney
pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and making false statements
in relation to the scandal.
On February 26
, 2007, William Heaton
, another former chief of staff
to Ney, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit
23, 2007 former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior J. Steven Griles
pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice
in the Senate
investigation of the Abramoff scandal, the top Bush administration
official to do so. On June 8
, 2007, Italia Federici
pled guilty to tax evasion
and obstructing the Senate investigation. On July
, 2007, Jared Carpenter
guilty to tax evasion.
On Friday, November 25, 2005, the Wall Street Journal
expansion of the investigation to four members of Congress: in
addition to Ney and DeLay, the report includes Rep. John Doolittle
(R., Calif.) and Sen. Conrad Burns
(R., Mont.) (In early 2008, the
Justice Department notified Burns he was no longer part of their
investigation.) On December 2, 2005, the New York Times
reported that federal prosecutors were considering a plea bargain
arrangement that would give Abramoff some consideration if he
provided evidence that would implicate members of Congress and
their senior staffers in receiving job offers in return for
The guilty pleas signed by Abramoff in early January 2006 state
that he bribed public officials. One of the cases of bribery
described in detail involves a person identified as "Representative
#1," who was reported by the Washington
to be Representative Bob Ney
(R-OH). Ney's spokesman confirmed that Ney was the Representative
identified, but denied any improper influence. The agreement also
details Abramoff's practice of hiring former congressional
staffers. Abramoff used these persons' influence to lobby their
former Congressional employers, in violation of a one-year federal
ban on such lobbying.
After Abramoff's guilty plea, investigations were shifted in
January 2006 to focus on the lobbying firm Alexander Strategy Group
by a "close friend of DeLay's and his former chief of staff." The
lobbying firm announced its closure come the end of the same month
due to "fatal publicity"; it had represented such large firms as
On June 22, 2006 the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
released its final report on the scandal. The report states that
under the guidance of the Mississippi Choctaw tribe's planner,
Nell Rogers, the tribe agreed to launder money because "Ralph Reed did not want to be paid
directly by a tribe with gaming interests."
It also states
that Reed used non-profits, including Grover Norquist
's Americans for Tax Reform
pass-throughs to disguise the origin of the funds, and that "the
structure was recommended by Jack Abramoff to accommodate Mr.
Reed’s political concerns."
ABC News reported on November 15, 2006 that Jack Abramoff told
prosecutors that Senator Harry Reid
requested contributions of $30,000 from Abramoff's clients and that
Reid agreed to assist him in matters concerning Indian
|See Jack Abramoff for full
details of Abramoff's life prior to tribal lobbying.
Mississippi Choctaw - Introduction to tribal lobbying
In the second half of the 1990s, Abramoff was employed by Preston
Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds LLP, the lobbying arm of Preston Gates & Ellis
firm based in Seattle, WA. In 1995, Abramoff began representing
Native American tribes with gambling interests, starting with the
Mississippi Band of
The Choctaw originally had lobbied the federal government directly,
but beginning in 1994, they found that many of the congressional
members who were respondent to their issues had either retired or
were defeated in the "Republican
" of the 1994 elections
. Nell Rogers
, the tribe's specialist on
legislative affairs, had a friend who was familiar with Abramoff's
father and Abramoff's work as a Republican activist. The tribe
contacted Preston Gates, and soon after hired the firm and
One of Abramoff's first acts was to defeat a Congressional bill,
that sought to use the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) to tax
Native American casinos, sponsored by Reps. Bill Archer
(R-TX) and Ernest Istook
(R-OK). Since the matter
involved taxation, Abramoff enlisted help from his College
Republican acquaintance Grover
, and his Americans
for Tax Reform
(ATR). The bill was eventually defeated in 1996
in the Senate, due in part to grassroots work by ATR, for which the
Choctaw paid $60,000.
According to Washington Business Forward
, a lobbying trade
magazine, "[Tom DeLay]
was a major factor
in those victories, and the fight helped cement the alliance
between the two men.
Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist
Later, in 1999, Abramoff would enlist the help of another College
Republican friend, Ralph Reed
The Choctaw needed to defeat a bill in the Alabama State
Legislature which would allow casino-style games on dog racing
tracks, which would result in
competition for their casino business. Reed had recently contacted
Abramoff via email, looking for some help in establishing new
"Hey, now that I’m done with electoral politics, I need to start
humping in corporate accounts! I’m counting on you to help me with
-Ralph Reed to Jack Abramoff, via email, November 12, 1998
Reed proposed to Abramoff some work which he and his firm, Century Strategies could perform. Reed
could access "3,000 pastors and 90,000 religious conservative
households" in Alabama, as well as "the AlabamaChristian Coalition,
the Alabama Family Alliance, the Alabama Eagle Forum, [and] the
Christian Family Association." Reed would require a $20,000 per
month retainer for his services, as well as a retainer.
On April 6, 1999, Abramoff got Preston Gates to approve hiring Reed
as a subcontractor, and told Reed to "get me invoices as soon as
possible so I can get Choctaw to get us checks asap."
By May 10, 1999, the Choctaw had paid $1.3 million to Reed via
Preston Gates, for various grassroots activities relating to the
dog-track bill, as well as opposing an Alabama state lottery. The
tribe then discontinued paying the money through Preston Gates, and
Abramoff suggested that they again use Norquist's Americans for Tax
Reform as a conduit, which the tribe agreed to.
Although the anti-gambling effort was not related to ATR's
anti-taxation activities, ATR passed checks of up to $300,000 from
the Choctaw to Reed's firm, in one case taking $25,000 as a
Later in 1999, Abramoff utilized Reed's services again to oppose
the federal Internet
Gambling Prohibition Act, on behalf of eLottery, a corporate
On January 8, 2001, Abramoff left Preston Gates to join the
Government Relations division of the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, which once described
him as "directly involved in the Republican party and conservative
movement leadership structures" and "one of the leading fund
raisers for the party and its congressional candidates." With the
move to Greenberg Traurig Abramoff took as much as $6 million of
client "work" from his old firm, including the Marianas Islands
account. When asked in an interview why he moved to Greenberg
Traurig, Abramoff replied "they have a dominant presence…This move
is an excellent opportunity for me and my clients with the new
At Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff assembled a "dream team" made up of lobbyists with past jobs
working for Congressional leaders. This team included Tony Rudy, whom Abramoff had worked extensively
with during the Marianas and eLottery lobbying, while Rudy was
serving as Chief of Staff to Tom DeLay. Abramoff had hired Rudy
while he was still at Preston
Gates & Ellis, and brought him and six other staff
lobbyists over to Greenberg Traurig. The hiring of Rudy was one of
the first instances in a pattern by which Abramoff would directly
hire aides of representatives he was actively lobbying.
2001 White House Transition Team Member
Jack Abramoff was a member of the Bush Administration's 2001
Transition Advisory Team assigned to the Department of the
Interior, led by J. Steven Griles. In the first 10 months of
2001, the Abramoff lobbying team logged almost 200 contacts with
the new Administration.
Abramoff's main contact in Deputy Secretary of the Interior Steven
Griles' office was through Italia
Federici, a former political aide to Secretary of the Interior
Gale Norton.Abramoff's main contact in
the West Wing of the White House was his former aide Susan Ralston who became Executive Assistant
to then Senior Advisor to the President Karl
In 2007 Griles and Federici pleaded guilty to obstruction of
justice in the Senate investigation of the Abramoff scandal; Griles
on March 23 and Federici on June 8.
"Gimme Five" begins
According to "Gimme Five” — Investigation of Tribal Lobbying
Matters, the final report of the Senate Committee on Indian
Affairs' investigation into Abramoff, the fraud which would become
a scandal began with an email interchange between Abramoff and
Michael Scanlon on June 18,
2001.After his career in the office of Congressman Tom Delay,
Scanlon had briefly been a member of Team
Abramoff, but had since moved on to form his own public affairs firm.
“A few weeks ago you mentioned something to me — I took the concept
and have put together a plan that will make serious money. We also
talked briefly about it in the beginning of the year but I think we
can really move it now.”
-Michael Scanlon to Jack Abramoff, via email, June 18, 2001.
Scanlon went on to describe a plan where Abramoff would help to
build the client base of Scanlon's firm, Campaign Capitol
Strategies, up to at least $3 million per year. At some point,
Scanlon would use his contacts in the public affairs industry to
get the firm acquired at a price of three times the revenue, and
Scanlon and Abramoff would split up the profits. This is considered
by investigators to be the beginning of what Abramoff and Scanlon
would refer to as "gimme five".
In 2001, the Louisiana Coushatta tribe
were going to renegotiate their gambling compact with the State of
Louisiana. The tribe was interested in negotiating a 25-year
compact with the state, but was expecting a "very vigorous fight"
and were not certain that their current lobbying representatives
were up to the challenge.
Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon were well recommended to the
tribe by a representative the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana.
Kathryn Van Hoof, the Coushatta's outside counsel, introduced the
idea to the Tribal Council that having a high-powered Federal
lobbyist could help with any problems on the State level
Abramoff and Scanlon make their pitch
A few weeks later, after collecting details of the Coushatta's
lobbying needs from Van Hoof, Abramoff and Scanlon gave a
presentation to the Tribal Council.
Abramoff claimed that he could get appropriation earmarks for the tribe, and "get things passed
through the legislature". Abramoff mentioned his and Scanlon's ties
with Tom DeLay, and the fact that he
"worked with people" in the Department of Interior. Abramoff also
suggested that participating in a DeLay golf tournament and paying
"lists of suggested contributions" would give the tribe name
recognition and access.
Scanlon claimed that his firm could organize direct mail,
telephone, and media campaigns, as well as giving advice on
strategies to gain the support of or neutralize the opposition of
specific public officials. Scanlon also promised a customized
database and "electronic-related services", based on polling and
collection of information of individuals who could be "mobilized"
in letter-writing campaigns and phone calls to officials.
The Tribal Council was initially somewhat confused by the
relationship between Abramoff and Scanlon; one member believed that
Scanlon's company was a branch of Greenberg Traurig. However, they
were hired and paid separately, and members of the tribe later
claim that Abramoff "never told the Council that he would
personally collect a share of those proceeds that the tribe paid
The tribe agreed on March 20, 2001 to hire Abramoff at a relatively
high retainer of $125,000 a month, plus expenses. On April 12, the tribe agreed to hire Scanlon's firm
for $534,500 for initial work on the compact renegotiation.
In July 2001, Louisiana Governor Mike
Foster approved the gambling compact. The tribe later claimed
that there was evidence that Scanlon's proposed strategies were
implemented. Abramoff and Scanlon then went on to propose a much
larger scope of work.
The Texas Menace
Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, or
"Tigua tribe" opened its Speaking Rock Casino near El Paso, Texas in 1993. In 1999 the State of Texas sought
to have the casino closed based on an interpretation of the Tribal
Restoration Act which granted the tribe Federal recognition. The
act stated that "[all] gaming activities which are prohibited by
the laws of the State of Texas are hereby prohibited on the
reservation and on lands of the tribe", which the State of Texas
interpreted as allowing state law to preempt the tribe's ability to
operate a casino. Future senator John
Cornyn led the court challenge as Texas Attorney General. The court case was still
ongoing in 2001.
2001, Abramoff began to suggest to the Louisiana Coushatta that the
Texas legislature was "one vote away" from legalizing
certain forms of gambling in Texas. The Alabama Coushatta -
a related but competing tribe to the Louisiana Coushatta - also
sought to open a casino in eastern Texas in 2001. Abramoff told the
Louisiana Coushatta that if the Tigua succeeded in their court
case, then Texas would be forced to allow the Alabama Coushatta to
open their casino.
Many of the Coushatta's casino customers traveled over the border
from eastern Texas to Louisiana, so this could pose a grave threat
to their livelihood. Scanlon suggested forming a "Grassroots
Political Structure" in Texas to oppose the Tigua's effort. Based on this fear, Abramoff and Scanlon
succeeded in extracting nearly $4 million in additional fees for a
Although the fees were meant to be for grassroots activities,
Scanlon insisted that $1 million be paid directly to Greenberg
Traurig; he explained: "we plan to do some things through the law
firm umbrella due to their highly sensitive nature and
confidentiality reasons. I hate hiding behind lawyers - but we are
going to do some crazy stuff on this one - so I guess it's ok."
However, the reason for this transfer was an email request the day
before from Abramoff to Scanlon - "I want to see if we can pump up
our LDA [reporting requirements under the Lobbying Disclosure Act]
for the second half to make sure we don’t fall out of the top ten
[lobbying firms]. I can achieve this if I can run some of the money
for the Coushattas through the firm and then get it to CCS."
Abramoff then deceived both the Coushatta and Greenberg Traurig by
having the money redirected as a donation to the Capital Athletic
Abramoff and Scanlon suggested to the tribe that they ought to
support Christian evangelical conservatives, who would be opposed
to gaming expansion in Texas. Abramoff specifically suggested
working with Ralph Reed, but
according to a tribal leader warned that "it can't get out … It
wouldn't look good if they're receiving money from a
casino-operating tribe to oppose gaming. It would be kind of like
hypocritical." The tribe paid Reed via payments from Southern
Underwriters, a Louisiana insurance company, to American International Center,
a shell corporation controlled by Scanlon; however, Scanlon and
Abramoff would skim millions of dollars paid through this method
Reed worked with Houston pastors and church congregations to make
demands on the state government to prevent the casinos from
opening. Reed also claimed to work directly with John Cornyn; in a
November 15 email, Abramoff claimed "Ralph and I spoke last night.
Cornyn is supposed to call Ralph as soon as he can make it to a
phone after El Paso." However, Senator Cornyn denied any direct
connection in later media interviews.
In addition to the grassroots efforts, Abramoff also claimed that
he had influenced the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Bill Ratcliff, to prevent a bill which would
allow the Tigua to open their casino from being scheduled for a
vote in the State Senate. The efforts succeeded and the Tigua
officially closed their casino on February 12, 2002.
"Saving" the Tigua
Jack Abramoff: "Fire up the jet baby, we're going to El
Mike Scanlon: "I want all their MONEY!!!"
- Email interchange between Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon,
February 6, 2002.
As the Tigua casino was being closed, Abramoff was trying to
contact the Tigua. He made contact with the Tigua's public
relations representative Marc Schwartz on February 6, 2002, and met
with the tribal council on February 12.
According to Schwartz, Abramoff "expressed indignation" over what
had happened to the tribe and wanted to "right the terrible
injustice that had been brought upon the tribe." During the
meeting, Abramoff admitted that he was friends with Ralph Reed, who
had publicly called for the closing of the casino, but claimed that
Reed was "crazy, like other folks in the Christian Coalition", and
that Reed was supplying information about the anti-gambling effort
to Abramoff, so he knew their strategy. He also admitted that the
Louisiana Coushatta were also his client, but claimed that the
Coushatta didn't have a problem with the Tigua.
Abramoff proposed that he and Greenberg Traurig would represent the
tribe pro bono until the casino was
re-opened. However, they would have to pay "a lot" for Scanlon's
services. The strategy, later called "Operation Open Doors", would
cost over $5 million, and would entail getting a friendly lawmaker
to sneak a provision into a federal bill permitting the Tigua to
reopen. This would require some contributions to the lawmakers.
Abramoff mentioned Scanlon's past career in the office of Tom DeLay, and Scanlon himself claimed he "had an
ongoing relationship with Congressman DeLay." Abramoff also gave
the tribe a list of contributions to legislators during the
presentation, which he said were required and advised the tribe to
Once the provision was made law, opponents would try to repeal it;
the second part of the strategy was for Scanlon to create a
nationwide database of grassroots supporters who could be called on
to send letters and make phone calls to representatives to block
The Tigua agreed to the proposal on the condition that it cost only
$4.2 million, and the contract was signed on March 5, 2002.
Guilty plea—confirmed corrupt lobbying practices
Abramoff and his partner Scanlon are alleged to have engaged in a
series of corrupt practices in connection to their lobbying work
for various Indian Casino gambling tribes. The fees paid to
Abramoff and Scanlon for this work are believed to exceed $85
In particular, Abramoff and Scanlon are alleged to have conspired
with Washington power broker Grover
Norquist and Christian activist Ralph Reed to co-ordinate lobbying
against his own clients and prospective clients with the objective
of forcing them to engage Abramoff and Scanlon to lobby against
their own covert operations. Reed was paid to campaign against
gambling interests that competed with Abramoff clients. Norquist
served as a go-between by funneling money to Reed.
Allegation of double dealing
Ralph Reed repeatedly denied knowing the source of the money used
to fund his campaign against the casinos until prosecutors released
e-mails exchanged between him and Abramoff. According to e-mails,
Reed and Norquist contacted Abramoff separately in 1999 to say they
wanted to do business. Norquist complained about a "$75K hole in my
budget from last year." Reed said he was counting on Abramoff "to
help me with some contacts."
On February 7, 2000, Abramoff warned Reed that an initial payment
for anti-lottery radio spots and mailings would be less than Reed
thought. "I need to give Grover [Norquist] something for helping,
so the first transfer will be a bit lighter," Abramoff wrote. The
transfer was apparently lighter than even Abramoff expected. In a
note to himself on February 22, Abramoff wrote, "Grover kept
another $25K!" Norquist claims he had permission.
On May 23, 2000, Abramoff e-mailed Reed a
retainer letter for Reed's work to build grass roots support to
help defeat a ban on Internet gambling that was then being
considered by Congress. The e-mail stated that the agreement was in
connection with the "elot project." eLot Inc. is the parent company
of eLottery Inc. an Internet gambling company that feared that the
passage of the anti-Internet gambling legislation would hurt its
On June 22, 2000, Susan Ralston e-mailed Abramoff, "I have 3
checks from elot: (1) 2 checks for $80K payable to ATR and (2) 1
check to TVC for $25K," [...] "Let me know exactly what to do next.
Send to Grover? Send to Rev. Lou?"
Thus eLottery money went through Norquist's foundation, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), the
Faith and Family Alliance,
and Reed's company, Century
Strategies, while the last check was sent to Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition
Abramoff forced the Choctaws to give the
Coalition of America $1.15 million in installments.
Norquist agreed to pass the money on to the Coalition and another
Alabama antigambling group, both of which Reed was mobilizing for
the fight against a proposed Alabama state lottery.
In 2002, after Abramoff worked with Reed to close the casino of the Tigua tribe, he
persuaded the tribe to hire him to lobby Congress to reopen the
Of the $7.7 million Abramoff and Scanlon charged the Choctaw for
projects in 2001, they spent $1.2 million on their behalf and split
the rest in a scheme they called "gimme five."
Guilty plea—confirmed spending irregularities
Abramoff resigned from Greenberg Traurig amid a scandal related to
spending irregularities in his work as a lobbyist for Native American
tribes involved in gambling, namely The Mississippi Choctaw, the Louisiana Coushatta, the Agua Caliente Band of
Cahuilla Indians, Sandia
Pueblo, the Saginaw Chippewa and the Tigua of
Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians paid $15 million to
Abramoff and Scanlon's organizations. The bills were heavily
padded. For example, in April 2000 he padded 2 hours with over 60
hours to achieve a "$150k minimum." The funds were diverted to a number of
projects, including the Eshkol
Academy, an all-boys Orthodox
Jewish school set up by Abramoff in Maryland.
Abramoff—who has been described by his
spokesman Andrew Blum as, "an especially strong supporter of
Israel" and by another associate as "a super-Zionist"—diverted
"money meant for inner-city kids" to Jewish settlers occupying the Palestinian West Bank in order to help them "fight the Palestinian
donors were outraged by Abramoff's diversion of funds to Israeli
settlers. " 'This is almost like outer-limits bizarre,' says Henry
Buffalo, a lawyer for the Saginaw Chippewa Indians who contributed
$25,000 to the Capital Athletic Foundation at Abramoff's urging.
'The tribe would never have given money for this.' "
Investigators believe that more than $140,000 of Capital Athletic
Foundation funds were actually used for "purchases of camouflage
suits, sniper scopes, night-vision binoculars, a thermal imager and
other material described in foundation records as 'security'
equipment." US Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearings revealed
that the Capital Athletic Foundation "paid a monthly stipend and
Jeep payments to a high-school friend of Abramoff" to conduct
sniper workshops for Israeli Defense Force members in Israel's
[sic] West Bank."
American International Center
the sums paid by the tribes for lobbying were paid to the American International Center,
an organization presenting itself as a think
tank headed by David Grosh, a
lifeguard on the Delaware shore who operated it from his beach house.
Grosh had no qualifications or experience relevant to policy
research and currently works in construction. At a Senate hearing, Grosh admitted that he
had abetted the deception and said that he was "embarrassed and
disgusted to be a part of this whole thing."
Racist references to Native American clients
In emails now made public by the Senate Committee on
Indian Affairs, which is investigating his activities, Abramoff
repeatedly referred to Native Americans as "monkeys", "troglodites" and
Abramoff once asked his co-conspirator Scanlon to meet a client,
saying in an email, "I have to meet with the monkeys from the
Choctaw tribal council. You need to close
the deal... with the client..."
About one tribal client (date unknown) Abramoff wrote to Scanlon,
"These mofos are the stupidest idiots
in the land for sure." In another email message he wrote, "we need
to get some money from those monkeys!!"
Abramoff's monetary influence
The monetary influence of Jack Abramoff ran deep in Washington, as
Jack Abramoff spent millions of
dollars to influence and entertain Republican politicians.
Abramoff had a reputation for largesse considered exceptional even
by Washington standards. In addition to offering many Republican
members of Congress expensive free meals at his restaurant,
Signatures, Abramoff maintained four skyboxes at major
sports arenas for political entertaining at a cost of over $1
million a year. Abramoff hosted many fundraisers at these
skyboxes including events for Republican politicians publicly
opposed to gambling, such as John
Doolittle. Abramoff gave over $260,000 in personal
contributions to Republican candidates, politicians, and
organizations, and funded numerous trips
for politicians and staffers, including both Republicans and
Democrats. An estimated two thirds of Ambramoff's direct
contributions went to Republican congressmen, and one third to
Democratic congressional leaders.
Of the approximately $85 million in tribal money entrusted to
Abramoff, his employers, or his related organizations, over $4.4
million since 1999 were directed to at least 250 members of
Congress, primarily Republicans in leadership positions or on
relevant committees, and Democrats with standing connections to
Native American interests, such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (in a 2-1 GOP ratio). These
contributions have since become tainted by their association with
Abramoff's criminal behavior.
Some of those who received money from Abramoff or his clients have
either returned the money or donated it. For example, months
after the investigations began, on December 14, 2005, the
Washington Post reported that Senator Byron
Dorgan (D-ND), the
vice-chairman for the US Senate Indian Affairs Committee, had
announced he would return $67,000 in contributions from Indian
tribes represented by Abramoff. Others, such as
Representative John Doolittle (R-CA),
have refused. Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), the largest single recipient
of Abramoff related money and co-chairman of the Congressional
Native American Caucus, received more than $150,000 from Indian
tribes once represented by Abramoff. These donations Hayworth said
he will keep because they were given independently of Abramoff's
influence. He donated to charity $2,250 he got directly from
Other connected parties
The Bush Administration
[[Image:Abramoff scotland3.jpg|thumb|right|A picture at St.
Andrews, the famed Scottish golf course. From left
to right: convicted lobbyist Jack
Abramoff, golf organizer Jason Murdoch, former Christian
Coalition leader Ralph Reed,
convicted former Bush administration official David Safavian and Congressman Bob Ney.]]
US GSA Chief Procurement Officer David Hossein Safavian
On September 19, 2005, David
Safavian, who was serving as the head of the federal
procurement policy at the Office of Management and
Budget, was the first person arrested in the Abramoff scandal.
Safavian was charged with lying to investigators and obstructing
the federal inquiry of Abramoff. While at the General Services
Administration, Safavian repeatedly discussed Abramoff's
interest in two federal properties that GSA controlled, and also
joined Abramoff on a trip to Scotland, reimubursing him a small
amount. Safavian was convicted on June 20, 2006. Safavian knew
Abramoff from the three years, 1995-1997, when he was part of
Abramoff's lobbying team at Preston Gates & Ellis.
Deputy United States Secretary of the Interior J. Steven
Abramoff claimed in emails sent in 2002 that Deputy United States Secretary
of the Interior Griles had pledged to block an Indian casino
that would compete with one of his clients. Abramoff later told two
people that he was trying to hire Griles.
John Doolittle has been entangled in
the scandal involving Jack Abramoff.
Doolittle has denied any wrongdoing, and on April 18, 2006 he hired
a former prosecutor from Ken Starr's
office as his media adviser on the matter.
Campaign contributions from Abramoff and his clients
Doolittle estimated that he received about $50,000 from clients of
Abramoff, mostly Indian tribes. Abramoff also personally donated
$14,000 over the period 1999-2004 to Doolittle's congressional
campaigns. According to the Washington Post, Doolittle "was
particularly close to Abramoff." Doolittle said he always thought
of Abramoff as "a friend" for a single reason: "I liked him,
frankly, because he was a partisan, conservative Republican
activist." Unlike many lawmakers, Doolittle has refused to give
away any of the Abramoff money.
Fund raising by Abramoff for Doolittle
An "ardent opponent of casino gambling," Doolittle held a
fundraiser at Jack Abramoff's skybox at the MCI Center in February,
1999. Abramoff, who rented the boxes himself, billed Indian tribes
lobbying fees to cover his cost. These tribes had hired Abramoff to
represent their casino interests.
Under federal campaign finance law, Doolittle was required to pay
Abramoff for use of the box, or to report the use as an "in-kind"
contribution from Abramoff to his campaign. Doolittle initially
failed to report the use of the sky-boxes in his Federal Election Committee
filings. In late 2004, his spokesperson, Laura Blackman, said "It
was an in-kind contribution, and it was an oversight that it wasn't
reported, but we are taking steps to correct that."
In January 2005, Doolittle reported that his campaign fund had sent
a check for $1,040 to one of Abramoff's former employers, the
Preston Gates lobbying
firm, to pay for the skybox. The lobbying firm returned the check
because it had never owned the skybox. In May 2005, Doolittle
campaign-fund spokesman Richard Robinson acknowledged that the
rejection of the check should have been reported to the FEC and
said a corrected accounting would be filed. Robinson said
Doolittle's fund is determined to rectify the six-year lapse in
paying for the box. "If we find out that Jack Abramoff paid for the
suite, then we'll reimburse Jack Abramoff, because we want to
reimburse the person or entity who paid for the box," Robinson
said. "We thought we were doing that in January."
Payments to Doolittle's wife by Abramoff
From August 2002 through February 2004, Abramoff's lobbying firm,
Greenberg Traurig paid Julie
Doolittle $66,000. Initially her work to help plan a fundraiser for
Abramoff's Capital Athletic
Foundation, called the Spy Game Gala, that was to be MC'ed by
Tony Snow. The event never happened
because it coincided with the beginning of the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
According to the initial statement by her attorney, the $66,000 in
payments from Abramoff were because she "primarily performed public
relations and other event planning services for the Spy Museum
She was paid a total of $27,000 through February 2003, when
payments stopped. In July 2003, Abramoff (via Greenberg Traurig)
began paying her again, $5,000 per month; this continued through
mid-February 2004, when the first story on what would become the
Abramoff scandal was published.
In a statement in June 2006, her attorney, William Stauffer, said
that "Sierra Dominion, a small business owned by Julie Doolittle,
provided marketing, event planning, and related services to the
Greenberg Traurig law firm, and its partner, Jack Abramoff, from
August 2002 through March 2004." "Sierra Dominion had a retainer
arrangement with Greenberg Traurig under which it provided services
concerning the Spy Museum event and also the Signatures and Stacks
restaurants". (The two restaurants were owned by Abramoff.)
Doolittle's records in connection with her work for Abramoff have
been subpoenaed by the United
States Department of Justice. The DOJ has not filed any charges in either
No explanation has been given as to why Greenberg Taurig made the
payments to Julie Doolittle, rather than the foundation (for whom
the charity event was planned) or the restaurants or Abramoff
personally (as restaurant owner).
Doolittle's actions on behalf of Indian tribes
In February, 2002, Doolittle was among more than two dozen
lawmakers who signed a letter to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton urging her to reject an Indian
casino opposed by Abramoff's tribal clients.
In early June 2003, Kevin Ring, a former staffer to Doolittle and a
lobbyist at Greenberg Taurig, brought members the Iowan Sac &
Fox tribe to meet with Doolittle in his office. In mid-June,
Doolittle wrote a letter to Norton complaining that the tribe's
casino was wrongly shut down because the Bureau of Indian Affairs
had refused to recognize a newly elected tribal council. Another
lobbyist involved in the matter was Michael D. Smith, formerly Al
Gore's Midwest political director, and a member of Team Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig.
Doolittle's action helped the Tribe to reopen the casino, a major
enterprise for the tribe and its reservation. Eventually, the
faction supported by Doolittle won control of the Tribal government
in a government supervised election, by a 4-1 margin. Others
involved in the effort included Senator Byron Dorgan (D- N.D).
October, 2003, Doolittle appealed in a letter to Norton for quicker
action for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts, which was seeking federal recognition; the tribe
was also a client of Greenberg Traurig, and Kevin Ring was a
lobbyist on the account.
Doolittle's actions on behalf of the Commonwealth of Northern
Mariana Islands (CNMI)
Abramoff's major clients was the government (Commonwealth) of the
Mariana Islands. Doolittle visited the islands in February
1999 as part of a congressional delegation. In April 2000 and April
2001, he met with CNMI House Speaker Benigno R. Fitial in Washington D.C. On May 25, 2001,
the Saipan Tribune printed a letter from Doolittle to
Fitial, which noted a recent $150,000 earmark, mentioned two
possible Army Corps of Engineers projects on the islands, and said
"I will urge the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee to
include funding for the feasibility study for both projects in the
FY 2002 appropriations bill." In August 2001, he backed Fitial's
candidacy for governor. Doolittle was successful in securing
$400,000 in Corps study funds in 2001, his first year on the House
Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.
Doolittle accepted $14,000 in contributions from Jack Abramoff just weeks before Doolittle
endorsed the election of Fitial, a CNMI politician who had been
crucial to Abramoff in obtaining a lobbying contract from that
government. The final Abramoff donation to Doolittle came just as
the last CNMI lobbying contract was set to expire in December 2001.
In the governor's election in early 2002, Fitial lost. The new
governor, Juan N. Babauta, cancelled the contract with
Justice Department actions and hiring of lawyer
challenged the Justice Department to "investigate me" if federal authorities were
thinking he was caught up in the Abramoff scandal. Since
then, "The congressman has not been subpoenaed or questioned by the
Justice Department," as of December, 2005.
January 27, 2006, three weeks after Abramoff pleaded guilty to
three federal felonies, Doolittle retained the legal services of
the Virginia law firm of Williams Mullen. Doolittle's
chief of staff, Richard Robinson, said the attorney handling
Doolittle's inquiry is David Barger.
Barger is the former president of the Virginia Bar Association's criminal
law section and a former assistant US attorney who later was an
associate of special prosecutor Kenneth
Starr in the Whitewater
investigation during the Clinton administration.
Robinson said the campaign (which paid a $10,000 retainer) has
hired Barger to address Doolittle's concerns about how he should
respond to questions from the press as he contemplated having to
talk about the scandal as part of his campaign for re-election.
"The congressman has not retained an attorney to respond to any
Justice Department inquiries as there have been none," Robinson
Activities of Julie Doolittle
During the 2001-2005 period, Julie Doolittle had at least three
different occupations: she worked for Jack Abramoff doing event
planning (see above); she worked as a bookkeeper for a lobbying
firm; and she worked on commission as a fundraiser for her husband.
(Richard Robinson, Doolittle's chief of staff, said Julie Doolittle
had other clients. But he refused to provide their names "out of
respect for the privacy of the clients."
Payments to Julie Doolittle during the period were done via a
company called Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions. It was founded
in March 2001, just after Congressman Doolittle gained a seat on
the Appropriations Committee. It is based at the couple's home in Oakton,
Virginia; Julie is the only employee. The company
(that is, Julie) has continued to do fundraising, but no event
planning or other work, since the Abramoff scandal first became
public in early 2005.
Work for lobbying firm
until mid-2005, the Alexander
Strategy Group, a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm with close ties to Congressman
Tom DeLay, paid Sierra Dominion for
bookkeeping work for a nonprofit group called the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council (KORUSEC),
created by Ed Buckham, a partner in the
firm, and located at the ASG headquarters. KORUSEC is also
connected to Kevin Ring, one of Doolittle's former
ASG is now closed due to the scandals surrounding Jack Abramoff. Julie Doolittle's records
regarding her work there were subpoenaed by the Department of
Justice. The DOJ has not filed any charges.
Maryland - Edward B. Miller
In 2005, a federal grand jury issued a subpoena in 2005 to Edward B Miller, the deputy chief of staff
of the Republican governor of Maryland, Robert L. Ehrlich, because of Miller's connection to
- Al Gore
"The Abramoff scandal is but the tip of a giant iceberg
that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative branch of
- Stephen Hess,
professor of media and public affairs at George
"This could be the biggest investigation of
- Bill Moyers
"It's a dizzying scope of perfidy and politics that
boggles the imagination, and although Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay
have been brought down, the system remains as vulnerable as
The scale of corruption still coming to light dwarfs
anything since Watergate."
- Former Aide to Rep. Ney Pleads Guilty
- The Raw Story | Four congressmembers role in
Abramoff lobbying scandal probed
- Mary Clare Jalonick, "Burns No Longer Part of Abramoff Probe",
Press, January 3, 2008.
- GOP Leaders Seek Distance From Abramoff -
- BBC News | World | Americas | Lobbyist case
- U.S. lobbying inquiry shifts to a second firm -
International Herald Tribune
Abramoff Reports to Prison; Officials Focus on Reid, Others - ABC
- Italia Federici - SourceWatch
- Fund-Raising: Take It to the (West) Bank
Newsweek, May 2, 2005.
- Indian Affairs panel hears 'tale of betrayal'
The Hill, June 23, 2005.
- Bloomberg.com: Top Worldwide
- A Tribe Takes Grim Satisfaction in Abramoff's Fall
- The lies of lobbygate: Rutland Herald
- Democrats Also Got Tribal Donations
- Coming to the Hill: lots of hearing-room drama |
- Democrat on Panel Probing Abramoff to Return Tribal
- Erica Werner, "Ties to ex-lobbyist Abramoff haunt NorCal Rep.
Doolittle", Associated Press, January 12, 2006
- The Raw Story | Bush Management and Budget
Procurement chief arrested after quitting
- Jon Kamman, "Hayworth, 2 others account for skyboxes: New
filings omit links to lobbyist", Arizona Republic, May
- "Letter from Congressman John T. Doolittle,
Republican of California, to Speaker Ben Fitial on various issues
pertaining to the NMI", Saipan Tribune, May 25,
- "Doolittle backs Fitial's candidacy",
Saipan Tribune, August 20, 2001
- Paul Kiel, "Doolittle was Abramoff Island Client's 'Hero'",
TPMMuckraker.com, August 4, 2006
- David Whitney, "California congressman helped Abramoff win
contract", McClatchy Newspapers, August 4, 2006
- David Whitney, "Legislator tied to Abramoff hires lawyer",
McClatchy News Service, April 18, 2006
- Top Ehrlich Aide Assisting Abramoff Probe