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The Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal is a United States political scandal relating to the work performed by political lobbyists Jack Abramoff, 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 Bob Ney (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.

Guilty pleas

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 (R-Ohio), 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 Greenberg Traurig.

On October 13, 2006, Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) 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 fraud.

On March 23, 2007 former Deputy Secretary of the U.S.marker Department of Interiormarker 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 7, 2007, Jared Carpenter pleaded guilty to tax evasion.

Continuing investigations

On Friday, November 25, 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported the 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 legislative favors.

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 Post 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, founded 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 Microsoft and PhRMA.

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 Mississippimarker 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, as 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 (D) requested contributions of $30,000 from Abramoff's clients and that Reid agreed to assist him in matters concerning Indian casinos.

Background

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 LLP law firm based in Seattle, WA. In 1995, Abramoff began representing Native American tribes with gambling interests, starting with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

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 Revolution" 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 Abramoff.

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 Norquist, 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 business.



"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 some contacts."

-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 "management fee".

Later in 1999, Abramoff utilized Reed's services again to oppose the federal Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, on behalf of eLottery, a corporate client.

"Team Abramoff"

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 Administration."

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 Rove.

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".

Louisiana Coushatta

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 also.

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 Scanlon."

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

The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, or "Tigua tribe" opened its Speaking Rock Casino near El Paso, Texasmarker 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.

In October 2001, Abramoff began to suggest to the Louisiana Coushatta that the Texasmarker 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.[171190] Based on this fear, Abramoff and Scanlon succeeded in extracting nearly $4 million in additional fees for a "Louisiana Program".

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 Foundation.

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 for themselves.

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 Paso!!"

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 make immediately.

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 any repeal.

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 million.

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 business.

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 (TVC).

In 2000, Abramoff forced the Choctaws to give the Alabamamarker Christian 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 casino.

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

In 2004, 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 Mississippimarker Choctaw, the Louisianamarker Coushatta, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Sandia Pueblomarker, the Saginawmarker Chippewa and the Tigua of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.

The Mississippimarker 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 Marylandmarker.

Israel

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 Bankmarker in order to help them "fight the Palestinian intifada." Tribal 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

Part of 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 Delawaremarker 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 "morons."

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, Signaturesmarker, 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-NDmarker), 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 Abramoff.

Other connected parties

The Bush Administration

[[Image:Abramoff scotland3.jpg|thumb|right|A picture at St. Andrewsmarker, 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 Griles

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

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 event."

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.)

Julie Doolittle's records in connection with her work for Abramoff have been subpoenaed by the United States Department of Justicemarker. The DOJ has not filed any charges in either case.

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).

In October, 2003, Doolittle appealed in a letter to Norton for quicker action for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe of Massachusettsmarker, 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)

One of Abramoff's major clients was the government (Commonwealth) of the Northern Mariana Islandsmarker. 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 Greenberg Traurig.

Justice Department actions and hiring of lawyer

Doolittle challenged the Justice Departmentmarker 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.

On January 27, 2006, three weeks after Abramoff pleaded guilty to three federal felonies, Doolittle retained the legal services of the Virginiamarker 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 said.

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, Virginiamarker; 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

From 2002 until mid-2005, the Alexander Strategy Group, a Washington, D.C.marker 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 assistants.

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 Grassroots Interactive.

Quotations

Al Gore
"The Abramoff scandal is but the tip of a giant iceberg that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative branch of government."


Stephen Hess, professor of media and public affairs at George Washington Universitymarker
"This could be the biggest investigation of 2006."


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 ever.
The scale of corruption still coming to light dwarfs anything since Watergate."


See also



References

  1. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5081540 NPR
  2. http://www.npr.org/documents/2006/jan/abramoff_charges.pdf
  3. Former Aide to Rep. Ney Pleads Guilty
  4. The Raw Story | Four congressmembers role in Abramoff lobbying scandal probed
  5. Mary Clare Jalonick, "Burns No Longer Part of Abramoff Probe", Associated Press, January 3, 2008.
  6. GOP Leaders Seek Distance From Abramoff - washingtonpost.com
  7. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/abramoff_info_010306.pdf
  8. BBC News | World | Americas | Lobbyist case threatens Congress
  9. http://alexanderstrategy.com/company.asp
  10. U.S. lobbying inquiry shifts to a second firm - International Herald Tribune
  11. http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2006/11/abramoff_report_1.html Abramoff Reports to Prison; Officials Focus on Reid, Others - ABC News
  12. www.bizforward.com
  13. http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:lLhVNtKvTfwJ:www.hillzoo.com/news032801.htm+%22Amy+Berger%22,+Preston+Gates&hl=en
  14. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-05-06-abramoff-bush_x.htmof
  15. Italia Federici - SourceWatch
  16. [1]
  17. http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/0304metreed.html
  18. Fund-Raising: Take It to the (West) Bank Newsweek, May 2, 2005.
  19. Indian Affairs panel hears 'tale of betrayal' The Hill, June 23, 2005.
  20. Bloomberg.com: Top Worldwide
  21. A Tribe Takes Grim Satisfaction in Abramoff's Fall - washingtonpost.com
  22. The lies of lobbygate: Rutland Herald Online
  23. Democrats Also Got Tribal Donations
  24. Coming to the Hill: lots of hearing-room drama | csmonitor.com
  25. Democrat on Panel Probing Abramoff to Return Tribal Donations
  26. Erica Werner, "Ties to ex-lobbyist Abramoff haunt NorCal Rep. Doolittle", Associated Press, January 12, 2006
  27. The Raw Story | Bush Management and Budget Procurement chief arrested after quitting
  28. [2]
  29. Jon Kamman, "Hayworth, 2 others account for skyboxes: New filings omit links to lobbyist", Arizona Republic, May 10, 2005
  30. "Letter from Congressman John T. Doolittle, Republican of California, to Speaker Ben Fitial on various issues pertaining to the NMI", Saipan Tribune, May 25, 2001
  31. "Doolittle backs Fitial's candidacy", Saipan Tribune, August 20, 2001
  32. Paul Kiel, "Doolittle was Abramoff Island Client's 'Hero'", TPMMuckraker.com, August 4, 2006
  33. David Whitney, "California congressman helped Abramoff win contract", McClatchy Newspapers, August 4, 2006
  34. David Whitney, "Legislator tied to Abramoff hires lawyer", McClatchy News Service, April 18, 2006
  35. Top Ehrlich Aide Assisting Abramoff Probe


External links

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