November 22, 2005
Over Keating Five, Make Way for the Abramoff Thirtysomething
In 1989, the Keating Five scandal erupted. Savings-and-loan scam-artist
Charles Keating had donated some $1.3 million to five U.S. senators'
pet political funds -- they intervened on his behalf with federal
regulators. The collapse of Keating's shaky thrift cost taxpayers
an estimated $2.6 billion. Democratic Sens. Alan Cranston, Dennis
DeConcini and Don Riegle retired. Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, won re-election,
while GOP Sen. John McCain, the least culpable and most repentant
of the unfab five, committed himself to rid politics of the taint
of bad money.
Keating Five. Make way for the Abramoff thirtysomething. As The
Associated Press reported last week, top lobbyist Jack Abramoff
appealed to some three dozen members of Congress to write to Interior
Secretary Gale Norton urging her to block an Indian casino in
Louisiana that threatened other casino tribes that had hired him.
investigation found: "At least 33 lawmakers wrote letters
to Norton and got more than $830,000 in Abramoff-related donations
as the lobbying unfolded between 2001 and 2004." The AP
reported that House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., raised $21,500
for a political action committee at Abramoff's restaurant. Seven
days later, the gentleman from Illinois wrote to Norton against
the Louisiana casino.
tribe -- an Abramoff client -- wrote two checks to political funds
affiliated with Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, before Abramoff asked
them to reroute the money to other GOP groups.
Washington Post has chronicled the first-class trips DeLay
made to the United Kingdom and South Korea on the lobbyist's dime.
are caught up in the scandal, too. AP also reported that
the Coushattas issued a $5,000 check to the political group of
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid the day after Reid sent a
letter to Norton. Over four years, Team Abramoff gave Reid's political
funds more than $66,000.
Team Abramoff enriched the political coffers of Rep. John Doolittle,
R-Calif., by $64,500 from 2001 to 2004 according to AP.
for the above lawmakers are outraged that anyone would suggest
that these fine officeholders wrote these letters for filthy donations.
spokeswoman Laura Black noted, "It should come as no surprise
that Congressman Doolittle should sign a letter opposing Indian
gaming since he has an established 25-year record of fighting
against the expansion of all forms of gaming, here in California
and across the country." Doolittle opposed California's state
the surprise is that two Big Casino tribes donated $16,000 to
the war chest of this upright gambling foe.
surprise: As part of his work for the casino tribes, Abramoff
apparently funneled $4 million to the anti-gambling Ralph Reed,
former leader of the Christian Coalition.
28 Weekly Standard reports how Abramoff associate Michael
Scanlon -- formerly of DeLay's office -- approached Rep. Bob Ney,
R-Ohio, and asked him to assert into the congressional record
remarks that attacked the owner of a Suncruz Casinos -- "Mr.
Speaker, how Suncruz Casinos and (owner) Gus Boulis conduct themselves
with regard to Florida law is very unnerving," said Ney --
without mentioning that Abramoff was trying to buy Suncruz at
a cut rate.
pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to a count of conspiring
to bribe public officials. While it is unclear if or how much
time Scanlon will spend behind bars, he has agreed to pay $19
million to Indian tribes that had paid some $82 million to Abramoff
and Scanlon. In return for their millions, Abramoff referred to
his clients, according to e-mails, as "monkeys" and
as though every decade or two, a scandal comes along that shows
how members of Congress can forget where they came from and whom
they represent. They start thinking that they're such swell guys
they can bend the rules. They can take big money from people with
whom they shouldn't be that cozy, then throw their weight around
with federal bureaucrats in matters that belong to other states.
They figure their constituents won't know or won't care.
think we're monkeys and troglodytes, too.
2005 Creators Syndicate