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Friday, November 04, 2005

Abramoff: The E-mails That Keep On Giving

Oh, that silly Jack Abramoff. Keeping all the e-mail around for investigators and enterprising journalists to sift through in their off hours. And find things like this:
Representative Tom DeLay asked the lobbyist Jack Abramoff to raise money for him through a private charity controlled by Mr. Abramoff, an unusual request that led the lobbyist to try to gather at least $150,000 from his Indian tribe clients and their gambling operations, according to newly disclosed e-mail from the lobbyist's files.
Gosh, perhaps its just me -- but isn't using a charity to launder political donations...erm...illegal. And, gasp, couldn't that mean old prosecutor in Texas use conduct like this to show...erm...a pattern of behavior and corruption in poor old Tom Delay's fundraising andpolitical action committee practices?
"Did you get the message from the guys that Tom wants us to raise some bucks from Capital Athletic Foundation?" Mr. Abramoff asked a colleague in a message on June 6, 2002, referring to the charity. "I have six clients in for $25K. I recommend we hit everyone who cares about Tom's requests. I have another few to hit still."

The e-mail was addressed to Tony Rudy, who had been Mr. DeLay's chief of staff in the House before joining Mr. Abramoff's lobbying firm. Mr. Abramoff said it would be good "if we can do $200K" for Mr. DeLay.

The e-mail traffic was released this week by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which has conducted a yearlong investigation into whether Mr. Abramoff and a business partner, Michael Scanlon, Mr. DeLay's former House press secretary, defrauded Indian tribe clients and their gambling operations out of tens of millions of dollars. There was no immediate comment on the e-mail from spokesmen for Mr. Abramoff or Mr. DeLay, who has stepped down as House majority leader because of an unrelated criminal indictment in his home state.
Ooops. And in a signal that things may just be getting bumpier for Delay, the DoJ signaled last week that it would be taking a good, hard look at his connections with Abramoff, including trips that Delay and his wife took on Abramoff's dime. But wait, there's more:
The hearings by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee have shown that through a network of outside companies and charities, Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon funneled tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees from Indian tribes into activities that often had little connection to the interests of the tribes and their lucrative gambling operations.

Mr. Abramoff's private charity, the Capital Athletic Foundation, has come under scrutiny by Senate investigators since the foundation was used to underwrite overseas travel by members of Congress and senior government officials, as well as a Jewish day school that Mr. Abramoff had established and paramilitary training for kibbutz residents in Israel. Mr. Abramoff's e-mail messages describe the training program as a "sniper school."
Well, that doesn't sound good at all, does it? Next thing you know, Delay will be whining about not knowing Mr. Abramoff very well at all.
In e-mail on July 8, 2002, to the lobbyist for a Texas Indian tribe, Mr. Abramoff asked about the status of the tribe's contribution to the foundation for Mr. DeLay: "I am getting daily calls on this. When they return tomorrow, I have no doubt, Tom himself is going to call." Mr. Abramoff appeared to be referring to Mr. DeLay's return to Washington after the Fourth of July holiday.
But e-mails like this are going to make that claim a little difficult, aren't they?

And Delay's attempt to rig his Texas trial by getting a Republican-friendly judge to appoint his trial judge? Not going so well, after all.
Late Thursday, Justice Jefferson announced that he had named a new trial judge, Pat Priest, a retired Democratic judge from San Antonio. It was not immediately clear if Judge Priest would be acceptable to lawyers on both sides.
Guess Delay is going to have to go back to that old standby -- criminalization of politics. Well, here's a clue for Tom: politics only gets criminalized when criminals are in office.

And on a related note: why did Fox News pay Tom Delay close to $14,000 in "travel expenses" to appear on their Sunday show the weekend after he was indicted? Just askin'. (Hat tip to Taegan Goddard's Political Wire.)