Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay tried to pressure the Bush administration into shutting down an Indian-owned casino that lobbyist Jack Abramoff wanted closed shortly after a tribal client of Abramoff's donated to a DeLay political action committee, The Associated Press has learned.
The Texas Republican demanded closure of the casino, owned by the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Texas, in a Dec. 11, 2001 letter to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. The Associated Press obtained the letter from a source who did not want to be identified because of an ongoing federal investigation of Abramoff and members of Congress.
"We feel that the Department of Justice needs to step in and investigate the inappropriate and illegal actions by the tribe, its financial backers, if any, and the casino equipment vendors," said the letter, which was also signed by Texas Republican Reps. Pete Sessions, John Culberson and Kevin Brady.
Sessions' political action committee received $6,500 from Abramoff's tribal clients within three months after signing the letter. A spokeswoman for Sessions said he considers gaming a state issue. She said the tribe was circumventing state law and Sessions signed the letter in defense of Texas laws.
Ashcroft never took action on the request. The Texas casino was closed the following year by a federal court ruling in a 1999 lawsuit filed by the state's attorney general, John Cornyn, now a U.S. senator.