The Fruits of the Republican Bribery Scandal

Jeez. Is there anything GOP stalwarts wouldn’t do to help out Jack Abramoff and his tribal gaming buddies? First we have Ralph Reed stabbing the entire evangelical community in the back by exploiting their anti-gambling views in order to favor Indian casinos :

Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Reed worked together to urge Christians and evangelical leaders to oppose casino openings and pro-gambling legislation in Louisiana. Behind the scenes, the pair’s campaign succeeded, bolstering the Coushatta Tribe’s casino business by eliminating competition.
. . .
Mr. Abramoff first hired Mr. Reed, a prominent evangelical who once called gambling “a cancer,” to leverage his evangelical contacts to defeat pro-gambling legislation in Alabama in 1999. Mr. Abramoff hatched the campaign to protect the gaming interests of one of his clients, the Choctaw Tribe of Mississippi. While Mr. Reed worked to rally Christians for campaigns that benefited Mr. Abramoff’s clients, Mr. Abramoff’s partner, Michael Scanlon, wrote an e-mail to Kathryn Van Hoof, a former lawyer for the Coushatta Tribe, describing the plan to use Christians: “Simply put we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them. The wackos get their information [from] the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet, and telephone.”
. . .
Mr. Reed has admitted funneling $1.15 million from the Choctaw Tribe to two anti-gambling groups in Alabama, including the Christian Coalition of Alabama (CCA), in 2000. In 2001, Mr. Abramoff hired Mr. Reed to rally evangelicals to oppose casino openings and pro-gambling legislation in Louisiana to protect the interests of the Coushatta Tribe. E-mails released by a Senate committee late last year show that Mr. Reed knew the Coushatta Tribe was Mr. Abramoff’s client. (In his plea agreement, Mr. Abramoff has admitted charging the Coushattas $30 million for his work, and pocketing nearly $11.5 million without the tribe’s knowledge.)

Other e-mails and faxes released by the Senate show that Mr. Reed organized TV and radio ads, as well as a letter-writing campaign, enlisting prominent evangelicals to help in the Abramoff-orchestrated campaign, including Focus on the Family’s James Dobson and Tom Minnery, former presidential candidate and family-values guru Gary Bauer, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, and American Family Association head Don Wildmon.

A veritable Who’s Who of Republican religious stooges. Far be it from me to point out that they’ve been getting used by the big business wing of the GOP for decades now. A few choice words about “values” and they can get those guys to do anything.

Also on the “selling the government to the highest bidder” tip, now we’ve got word that Tom Delay was pestering the Justice Department to shut down rival casinos :

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.
. . .
The letter also was sent to Interior Secretary Gale Norton; the U.S. attorney for Texas’ eastern district; the chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who took over when Bush was elected president.

Its author appears to have been unfamiliar with the Alabama-Coushatta. It said the tribe was based in “Livingstone,” and that the tribe had opened a casino “against the wishes of the citizens of Alabama.” The tribe’s reservation is in Livingston, Texas.

Cue the GOP talking points in 3…2….1….

“I’m sorry, who was that you’re referring to? Tim D. Laye? There are over 400 members of Congress, so forgive me if I’ve never heard of him.”