The investigation of powerful Republican Jack Abramoff could reveal much about how the GOP juggernaut works. It looks like he will get ten years, which will include any sentence from a fraud case now pending in Florida. There is also a fascinating subplot involving the funneling of Pentagon money into Republican political action committees, but this part of the story is not likely to surface..
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff was George W. Bush’s top fund-raiser in 2004. He is at the heart of the Republican strategy to use corporate money to retain control of both houses indefinitely. the Tioga tribe from opening a casino, for which the Tiogas had paid Abramoff to seek.
As closer friend and former college roommate of Grover Norquist, he was at the heart of the Republican policy-making mechanism, which is Norquist’s famous Wednesday meetings. To have your interests considered at these meetings, it is useful to donate to the Republican party and hire Republican lobbyists. Another bonus, is that your lobbyists can set with House staffers in drafting legislation. They even get desks and the use of government computers.
. Abramoff is Tom DeLay’s "Closest and dearest friend" and a frequent golfing buddy and travel host. He provided the Texan with the fund connections necessary to do favors for colleagues and amass enormous political power. With De Lay and Senator Rick Santorum, Abamoff fashioned and helped enforce the "K Street Strategy," which forced firms to purge Democrat lobbyists and hire Republicans. It resulted in greatly increased corporate contributions to the GOP. The plan was to gain control of K Street lobbying operations and use it to nail down permanent contyrol of Congress. Through them, money and favors would be channeled to De Lay and his allies in return for the assurance that official action would follow.
Implementation of this strategy began in 1995 with the Republican take-over of the House. In 1996, GOP national Chairman Haley Barbour and Republican leaders held a meeting for CEOs to inform them about what it took to do business in Washington. After a few firms were punished for hiring Democrat lobbyists, most fell into line and screen their choices with Rick Santorum or Roy Blont, now acting Republican majority leader. By 2006, some CEOs note that the lobbyists are essentially Republican operatives, more loyal to the party than to their clients.
If a lobbyist wants to talk to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, she musty be screened by gate-keeper Susan Ralston, who once worked with Abramoff. She usually checks out the lobbyist with Norquist, who keeps charts the loyalty and contributions of the lobbyists. In recent days, the official word in Washington is that she was placed in Rove’s office by sometime lobbyist Ralph Reed, former leader of the Christian Coalition now running for lieutenant governor in Georgia. We are expected to believe Abramoff had nothing to do with her job change.
Many other lobbying firms have become part of the enlarged K Street Strategy, but none is more important than Alexander Strategies. It was started b y De Lay’s friend and former aid Edwin A. Buckman, and has been assisted by Abramoff and Mrs. DeLay, who received $115,000 in consulting fees from it. It was reported that DeLay frequently routed potential clients to Buckman’s shop. Buckman also operated DeLay’s Family Network, and , for a time, he managed the leadership’s Americans for a Republican Majority. Alexander Strategies jointly managed with Abramoff some Malaysian and Indian accounts.
With the announcement of Abramoff’s guilty plea, politicians–including some Democrats– are shedding his donations. At the top f his list is Speaker Dennis Hastert, who is giving up a little less than $70,000. He may fear that a few careful readers recall information from the Edmunds matter that he accepted funds from Turkish-American lobbyists under very questionable circumstances. Of course, two gag orders and a retroactive top secret classification now covers all that information. Erie Congressman Phil English refused to return his $5,000. Senator Rick Santorum has yet to act, but will probably surrender it given the tight reelection he faces.
Jack Abramoff is known to have recently collected at least $66,000,000 from Indian tribes in connection with gambling rights, and he helped powerful Christian politician Ralph Reed help one gambling tribe prevent another from competing with it. Abramoff helped the Choctaws funnel a $1,500,000 payment to the Alabama Christian Coalition at Reed’s behest. The payment was for preventing His career total from the Native Americans could top $300,000,000.
He and partner Adam Kidan, another powerful Republican, have been indicted for wire fraud involved in the purchase of Sun Cruz, a casino cruise line. Abramoff and Kidan were Young Republicans and attended Georgetown Law Gus Boulis, a minor shareholder, was murdered in 2001 after he complained about free spending and the employment of mobsters tied to "Big Tony", Mosatiello, who is allegedly tied to the Gambino crime family. No one is accusing Abramoff of involvement in murder. Three alleged hit men have been charged. Kidan is accused of paying the daughter of one of them $30,000 and of giving a defendant’s company $115,000.( Miami Herald November 6, 2005)
The state prosecutor looking into the De Lay case in Austin has subpoenaed records from the recent prosecution of Congressman Rusty Cunningham, who was convicted of taking more bribes than any other representative in history. Cunningham received most of his gifts and money from firms controlled in one way or another by Brent Wilkes, was an unindicted co-conspirator. The main form is MZM, founded in 1993. Maybe it does defense intelligence, or maybe it just shred documents for the Pentagon. Its all very murky, and the San Diego papers have been unable to establish the ownership of his chain of firms. Several observers, including The Hill, have wondered if all this is part of a scheme to route Pentagon dollars to the Republican party. Through his Group W Transportation, Wilkes has retained Alexander Strategy for lobbying purposes.
It is known that Wilkes has also channeled $630,000 to Abramoff, was a substantial fund raiser for George W. Bush and the Terminator, Rep. Duncan hunter, Rep. Katherine Harris. Some, including The Hill ( December 11, 2005), speculate that he provides a conduit for Pentagon funds to go to Republican campaigns. Wilkes could have been a CIA contractor in the 1980s when he weass tied to a bank that handled contra transactions. He remains a close friend of Kyle Foggo, promoted by Porter Goss to the number three spot in the agency. Don’t look for too much on this part of the story to come out.
The former White House coordinator of federal procurement, David Safavian, has been arrested in connection with the Abramoff probe. He had been an Abramoff partner. Jennifer Safavian, his wife, is lead counsel for the House Government Operations Committee, which will look into how Katrina was handled.
The FBI is looking into whether a federal prosecutor was reassigned in 2002 in order to derail the Abramoff investigation. The Abramoff case is being explored by grand juries in Florida and Guam Senator John McCain’s committee is also looking into the matter. The five counts against Safavian will go before a DC federal court. A thorough investigation of these matters could reveal much about how the GOP power structure in Washington works and whether there is a "pay for play" operation going on. It is as likely that the whole matter will sink into a swamp of complex and endless litigation, and that a masterful spin operation will portray all of this as the result of an evil leftist plot to sully the reputations of God-fearing Republicans.
The investigation of Abramoff is being handled by interim appointment Alice Fisher, whom some claim has ties to De Lay’s legal team. Even with Abramoff and possible DeLay out of the way, the K Street Strategy could remain in place. There is talk of the majority party introducing reform legislation to clean up its image, but the devil will be in the detail.
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