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Jack Abramoff and the Republican Culture of Corruption

Jack Abramoff

Jack Abramoff

From: www.sourcewatch.org

Jack Abramoff, the disgraced long-time Washington insider whom Congressman Tom DeLay once referred to as one of his "closest and dearest friends," collected $100,000+ for President George W. Bush's re-election campaign, "earning premier status within the campaign" as a Bush Pioneer, as well as raised funds for GOP congressional candidates. [1]

As a Republican Party lobbyist, Abramoff was Senior Director of Government Affairs for the Greenberg Traurig law and lobbying firm from January 2001 to March 2004, when he was fired and became a consultant at the Cassidy & Associates lobbying shop. Abramoff was "brought into Cassidy" by Gregg Hartley, a former top aide to House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), according to Roll Call's Brody Mullins. [2] [3]

Abramoff cut his ties with Cassidy & Associates on or around July 8, 2004, "to form his own company, Middle Gate Ventures," to do "such business opportunities as energy projects, real estate development and motion picture production -- no lobbying," according to the Washington Post's Judy Sarasohn. In March 2004, Abramoff had "signed an exclusive contract with Cassidy for him to steer lobbying business to the company." [3]

Abramoff was College Republican National Committee (CRNC) National Chairman from 1981-85, as well as a Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. [4]

Client "Company A" is Tyco
Tyco International Ltd., "whose former CEO" L. Dennis Kozlowski "became a symbol of corporate corruption, acknowledged" January 5, 2006, that "it is the Jack Abramoff client referred to as 'Company A' in court documents describing the lobbyist's scheme to funnel millions of dollars in lobbying fees to himself," the Associated Press's Sharon Theimer reported.

Guilty Plea Deals
On January 4, 2006, a day after he entered guilty pleas to "defrauding Indian tribal clients of millions of dollars, conspiring to bribe members of Congress and evading taxes" before a federal judge in Washington, DC, Abramoff pleaded guilty in federal court in Miami before U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck to "conspiracy and wire fraud stemming from his 2000 purchase" of SunCruz Casinos, a fleet of gambling boats in Florida. [5] [6] See Current Articles & Commentary

Follow the Money: Dumping $$$ ... and Waiting
Abramoff's plea deals cleared "the way for his cooperation with federal prosecutors in bringing charges against former business and political associates" and is sending "seismic waves across the political landscape," as predicted by the Associated Press's Tom Raum.

Almost immediately following Abramoff's second guilty plea in Miami on January 4, 2005, President Bush, Representative Tom DeLay, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Representative Roy Blunt and "numerous lawmakers hastily jettisoned campaign donations linked" to Abramoff while Republican Party officials "pondered the impact of a spreading scandal on their 2006 election prospects," the Associated Press's David Espo wrote.

The Wall Street Journal reported November 25, 2005, that the Justice Department's "investigation into possible influence-peddling ... [was] examining his dealings with four lawmakers, more than a dozen current and former congressional aides and two former Bush administration officials, lawyers and others involved in the case. ... [Namely] House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio), Rep. John Doolittle (R., Calif.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R., Mont.), according to several people close to the investigation."

"Five of the former aides worked for Mr. DeLay, including" Tony Rudy, Ed Buckham and Susan B. Hirschmann. "The three were top aides to Mr. DeLay and are now Washington lobbyists." [7]

See:

Scandals


Jack Abramoff's Criminal Activities

Abramoff's Lobbyist Work

Following the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994, Abramoff moved back to Washington, DC. He worked from 1994-2001 as a lobbyist for Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, a Washington branch of the Seattle-based Preston Gates and Ellis law firm. In January 2001, he joined the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, whose website described him as "directly involved in the Republican party and political conservative movement leadership structures and is one of the leading fund raisers for the party and its congressional candidates." This page biography has since been removed from their website.

In July 2005, Timothy E. Flanigan "acknowledged that as general counsel at Tyco International, a corporation that became embroiled in scandal before his arrival in December 2002, he had personally supervised Mr. Abramoff's lobbying work for Tyco in 2003." [10] "Abramoff listed the president's office among the agencies his team of lobbyists sought to influence on behalf of Tyco during Flanigan's tenure at the Bermuda-based conglomerate." [11]

"Team Abramoff" and the Bush Administration

In the first ten months that President George W. Bush was in office, "GOP fundraiser Jack Abramoff and his lobbying team logged nearly 200 contacts with the new administration as they pressed for friendly hires at federal agencies and sought to keep the Northern Mariana Islands exempt from the minimum wage and other laws," the Associated Press reported May 6, 2005.

"The meetings between Abramoff's lobbying team and the administration ranged from Attorney General John Ashcroft to policy advisers in Vice President Dick Cheney's office, according to his lobbying firm billing records."

"The records from Abramoff's firm, obtained by The Associated Press from the Marianas under an open records request, chronicle Abramoff's careful cultivation of relations with Bush's political team as far back as 1997, [when] Abramoff charged the Marianas for getting then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush to write a letter expressing support for the Pacific territory's school choice proposal, his billing records show.

"'I hope you will keep my office informed on the progress of this initiative,' Bush wrote in a July 18, 1997, letter praising the islands' school plan and copying in an Abramoff deputy," the AP reported.

"White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said Thursday that Bush didn't consider Abramoff a friend. 'They may have met on occasion, but the president does not know him,' she said."

"The documents [obtained by the AP] show his team also had extensive access to Bush administration officials, meeting with Cheney policy advisers Ron Christie and Stephen Ruhlen, Ashcroft at the Justice Department, White House intergovernmental affairs chief Ruben Barrales, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles and others.

"Most of the contacts were handled by Abramoff's subordinates, who then reported back to him on the meetings. Abramoff met several times personally with top Interior officials, whose Office of Insular Affairs oversees the Mariana Islands and other U.S. territories.

"In all, the records show at least 195 contacts between Abramoff's Marianas lobbying team and the Bush administration from February through November 2001.

"At least two people who worked on Abramoff's team at Preston Gates wound up with Bush administration jobs: Patrick Pizzella, named an assistant secretary of labor by Bush; and David Safavian, chosen by Bush to oversee federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget," the AP wrote.

Also see Lou Dubose's "The Pimping of the President" posted June 9, 2005, in the Texas Observer.

Tyco International Ltd.

Republican Activism

Political Contributions: "Bush Pioneer"

In 1997, Abramoff gave $500 to the campaign of Republican Congressman Doc Hastings. The New York Times reported that Abramoff made an additional $500 donation to Hastings and that the Seattle law firm Abramoff worked for, Preston, Gates & Ellis, donated $13,000 to Hastings' campaign.

"The access of Abramoff and his team to the [Bush] administration came as the lobbyist was establishing himself as a GOP fundraiser," the Associated Press reported May 6, 2005.

"Abramoff and his wife each gave $5,000 to Bush's 2000 recount fund and the maximum $1,000 to his 2000 campaign. By mid-2003, Abramoff had raised at least $100,000 for Bush's re-election campaign, becoming one of Bush's famed 'pioneers.'

"Money also flowed from the Marianas to Bush's re-election campaign: It took in at least $36,000 from island donors, much of it from members of the Tan family, whose clothing factories were a routine stop for lawmakers and their aides visiting the islands on Abramoff-organized trips.

"Two Tan family companies gave $25,000 each to the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2002 elections. Greenberg Traurig, too, was a big GOP giver. Its donations included $20,000 to the Republican National Committee for the 2000 elections and $25,000 each to the GOP's House and Senate fundraising committees in 2000 and again in 2002."

Profiles

Exemplfying the "political decadence of late-stage conservatism"

"Well-connected Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff came into the news lately when it turned out he had collected more than $9 million in fees from various Indian tribes during the past two years, although tribal interests faced little political opposition at that time. (He was dumped by his firm, Greenberg Traurig, which cited 'personal transactions and related conduct which are unacceptable to the firm.' Abramoff responded with a statement noting that Washington lobbying 'is different from other areas in the practice of law.' Indeed.) But while Abramoff is far from Washington's first corrupt lobbyist, he's among a troika of right-wing operatives who exemplify a more recent trend: the political decadence of late-stage conservatism." --Washington Monthly, April 2004.

Master of Sleaze

"Only a genius like Abramoff could make money lobbying against an Indian tribe's casino and then turn around and make money defending that tribe against himself. Only a giant like Abramoff would have the guts to use one tribe's casino money to finance a Focus on the Family crusade against gambling in order to shut down a rival tribe's casino.

"Only an artist like Abramoff could suggest to a tribe that it pay him by taking out life insurance policies on its eldest members. Then when the elders dropped off they could funnel the insurance money through a private school and into his pockets.

"This is sleaze of a high order. And yet according to reports in The Washington Post and elsewhere, Abramoff accomplished it all," wrote David Brooks in the March 22, 2005, New York Times.

Abramoff's Quotes

  • "Can you smell money?!?!?!" Jack Abramoff wrote. --Quoted May 1, 2005, New York Times. [12]
  • "This is really high on the priority list of tribal concerns. ... This is a cash cow in many circumstances, and tribes are concerned about protection of tribal assets." [13]

Related SourceWatch Resources

Books

  • Jack Abramoff mentioned in Nina J. Easton's Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Crusade [Simon & Schuster 2000 ISBN 0684838990].

Wikipedia also has an article on Jack Abramoff. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

From: www.sourcewatch.org

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