It sounds like a classic game of “hide that money” so the voters don’t find out.
And it sounds like just one more, political pol. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Casino-owning Indian tribes filtered more than $5 million through a series of corporations to satisfy what they said were Ralph Reed’s political concerns that he would be linked to the cash, a Senate committee concluded Thursday.
Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, used the money to mount religious conservative opposition to gambling in competing states.
The findings were contained in a 357-page report by the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, wrapping up a two-year investigation into influence-peddling by Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who directed the money to Reed.
The bulk of the report documents the bilking of six Indian tribes of tens of millions of dollars by Abramoff and his partner, Michael Scanlon, both of whom have pleaded guilty to pocketing most of the money and using some of the rest to bribe public officials.
“They sold their access and influence with House leadership as a way to con the tribes out of their money,” U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said of Abramoff and Scanlon.
Reed was accused of no wrongdoing, but the committee said the use of nonprofit corporations by Reed, Abramoff and others “to obscure the source of funds” was worth more investigation.
This sounds like any story you could read about over the years about a hack politician, of any party.
The report by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee portrayed Reed, a candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in Georgia, as a central figure in Abramoff’s lobbying operation, the focus of a wide-ranging federal criminal investigation.
Abramoff and his former lobbying partner, Michael Scanlon, have pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt public officials and bilking some tribal clients out of tens of millions of dollars.
There has been no suggestion by prosecutors that Reed is under special scrutiny by the grand jury. The report also describes efforts by Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) to help an Abramoff client. Ney has not been accused of a crime.
The New York Times puts it this way:
A bipartisan Senate report released Thursday documented more than $5.3 million in payments to Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition and a leading Republican Party strategist, from an influence-peddling operation run by the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff on behalf of Indian tribe casinos.
The report by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee portrayed Reed, a candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in his home state of Georgia, as a central figure in Abramoff’s lobbying operation, the focus of a wide-ranging criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
Reed was depicted as using his contacts among conservative Christian groups in the South and Southwest beginning in the late 1990s to block the opening or expansion of casinos that might compete with those of Abramoff’s clients.
In Hollywood they call this overlapping of goals “synergy.”
Reed has an answer. Does it qualify as “spin”? You decide:
Reed, who is running in the July 18 GOP primary for lieutenant governor in Georgia, characterized the Senate report as a clean bill of health that would free voters to focus on issues closer to home.
He said the report “confirms I have not been accused of any wrongdoing in this matter. It also confirms that I was hired as a subcontractor for a very respected law firm and had no direct relationship with their clients.”
Reed has maintained that he was assured by Abramoff’s law firm at the time, Preston Gates, that his efforts against casinos wouldn’t be paid with money tainted by gambling.
“It is now clear from benefit of hindsight that this was a piece of business I should have declined,” he said.
That sentence is one on which Democrats, Republicans, Ralph’s advisers, and those who believe in clean government where politicos or aspiring politicos are not seemingly for sale can all agree.
Blog and Tan has an interesting post on the Reed/$$$ matter and writes, among other things:
Here’s the question all this leads to: Given that Atlanta’s lynchpin Delta Airlines is in bankruptcy and that both auto plants are slated to close soon, does Georgia need yet another strike against it? Can we really afford to send someone involved in such questionably unethical activity to the second highest elected office in the state? Do we really want to be known for that?
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.