Making Sense of the Abramoff Scandal
The ever-widening scandal surrounding Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff threatens to take down at least a half-dozen Congressmen in 2006, more of their aides, Executive Branch employees, and untold numbers of other members of the Republican Beltway hierarchy. At least four dozen lawmakers from both parties are documented as having taken actions favorable to Abramoff clients around the time they received large donations from Abramoff and/or his clients.
It's a sordid tale of Washington corruption, and of crony capitalism at its worst, and it is so dizzyingly complex that few media outlets and even fewer members of the public have yet appreciated just how thoroughly it indicts not just Republican leadership, but the entire bipartisan way of crafting public policy that masquerades as 21st century American democracy.
Abramoff figures in at least four separate, interrelated scandals:
- He and partner Adam Kidan have been indicted on wire fraud and conspiracy charges involving the 2000 purchase of SunCruz Casinos, a Florida gambling boat venture;
- He funneled money into the PAC run by House Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay that has led to Texas charges against DeLay for illegally laundering campaign donations;
- He and partner Michael Scanlon are suspected of defrauding and vastly overbilling Native American tribes and other clients with gaming interests; and
- He and Scanlon are also suspected of bribing and offering gifts and spousal jobs to Congressmembers and Executive Branch officials in exchange for actions favorable to their clients.
Appallingly, it's hard to tell with many of Abramoff's activities whether they are crimes, D.C. business as usual, or both. Here, then, compiled from The Washington Post and other sources, is a summary in alphabetical order of 25 of the key players involved, how they relate to each other, and what they're suspected of. It's rather long and exhaustive (of what we know so far), but then, the indictments will be far longer. Read it, keep it as a scorecard, and weep for democracy.
Jack Abramoff: Former chair in the early '80s of the College Republicans (his campaign manager was future anti-tax guru Grover Norquist), and close friend of Karl Rove. Introduced to Republican Texas Rep. Tom DeLay by conservative Jewish activist Rabbi Daniel Lapin in the early '90s, Abramoff helped win DeLay's election as majority whip in 1994, a campaign that cemented the bond between the two. The relationship between Abramoff and DeLay is now the target of investigations by the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Justice Department, and a federal grand jury. Abramoff during the Bush administration became the most influential lobbyist in the country; in 2004 he was a Bush "Pioneer," raising over $100,000 for Dubya's re-election.
Abramoff, 46, was indicted along with partner Adam Kidan in August 2005 by a Florida grand jury on wire fraud and conspiracy charges in a Florida gambling boat venture, SunCruz Casinos. Prosecutors say the purchase by the two of a fleet of casino gambling ships in 2000 for $147.5 million involved a fake wire transfer of $23 million and the falsification of loan documents. For the purchase, Abramoff listed Tony Rudy, then a DeLay aide, and Californian Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher as personal references. Abramoff faces up to five years in prison for each of six counts and the forced return of $60 million lost by a casino investor.
Abramoff worked for the D.C. lobbying office of the law firm Preston Gates Ellis from 1994 to 2001, and while there worked with Michael Scanlon and William Jarrell (both former DeLay aides), future General Services Administration head David Safavian, and former Christian Coalition boss Ralph Reed, then a Preston Gates contractor. Abramoff arranged for at least 85 Congressmen and aides to take trips in the late '90s to the Northern Mariana Islands, a Preston Gates client, while attempting to win exemption from minimum wage laws and other legislation favorable to the sweatshops there. The Marianas, a U.S. trust territory in the Pacific, are notorious as the home of numerous sweatshops importing foreign, virtually slave labor that produces products with a "Made in U.S.A. " label.
Among the visitors was DeLay; two DeLay aides' trips were also allegedly illegally paid for. Between 1994 and 2001, the Northern Mariana Islands paid $6.7 million to Preston Gates for lobbying services, of which an auditor later determined $3.1 million was paid without a lawful contract. Rabbi Daniel Lapin's brother, David, who once ran a D.C. area Jewish academy established by Abramoff, had a $1.2 million no-bid Northern Marianas government contract, arranged by Abramoff during his Preston Gates days, to conduct ethics-in-government programs. But near as anyone in the Marianas can determine today, David Lapin failed to provide any services. Abramoff was also the target of a 2002 grand jury probe in Guam, involving influence peddling in a case involving court reform. A day after a subpoena was issued, President Bush demoted the federal prosecutor in the case, and the inquiry stalled.
In 2001, Abramoff was lured (along with some of his clients) with his $175,000 a month retainer to the Miami lobbying firm Greenberg Traurig LLC. After he joined Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff and Scanlon (who left Preston Gates Ellis to start his own consulting service) agreed to join forces and concentrate on Native American casino tribes. Overall, Abramoff and Scanlon collected a staggering $66 million in fees from tribal interests, with another $16 million going directly to Greenberg Traurig.
Investigators are now looking at whether tribes were defrauded of some of that $82 million. Abramoff allegedly arranged for more than $4 million of Preston Gates Ellis Native American client funds to be funneled into antigambling campaigns run by Reed from 1999 to 2003. In one case involving funds from an Indian casino client, as much as $1.3 million may have been used to launch a campaign. At least some of the Preston Gates money was allegedly laundered through an anti-tax group of Abramoff's old friend Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform. The point was for Abramoff's Native American casino clients to pay for campaigns that would shut out potential competition from state lotteries or new casinos.
Abramoff arranged for the hiring of several Congressional wives, including Christine DeLay, wife of the Majority Whip. (Christine DeLay took four years to research the favorite charity of each member of Congress, for which she was paid $115,000. Nice work if you can get it.) Abramoff frequently used his D.C. charity, Capital Athletic Foundation, as a pass-through organization to run lobbying efforts and to pay for expenses, including retaining the services of a firm owned by Republican California Rep. John Doolittle's wife Julie, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc. Abramoff is also accused of misusing his charity to fund activities like an Israeli sniper school on the West Bank.
Abramoff also allegedly misused a conservative D.C. think tank on whose board he served, the National Center for Public Policy Research. The group was allegedly used to launder $50,000 to pay for a May 2000 trip by DeLay, his wife, Rudy, and another DeLay aide to Scotland. Two months later, DeLay helped kill a anti-gambling bill, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, opposed by Abramoff clients. In 2002 the Choctaw tribe, a client of Abramoff's, donated $1 million to the center and in 2003 Greenberg Traurig gave $1.5 million in "grants" that originated from an Abramoff client. In 2003, the National Center paid $1.275 million for consulting services to Kaygold, an LLC controlled by Abramoff.
Former Preston Gates colleague David Safavian, who had been appointed by Bush as head of the General Services Administration, was arrested in September 2005 and charged with lying and obstruction of justice in conjunction with an investigation into Abramoff's seeking of favors from Safavian while he attempted to buy land from the federal government. Abramoff is also being investigated for having illegally paid for three Scotland golf trips and trips to Moscow and London for DeLay, and a 2002 Scotland trip for then-DeLay aide Tony Rudy, Safavian, Norquist, and Republican Ohio Rep. Robert Ney.
Over the years, Abramoff showered members of Congress with donations, trips, gifts, and fundraising events, often as quid pro quo for favorable legislative action. At least four dozen lawmakers from both parties are documented as having taken actions favorable to Abramoff clients around the time they received large donations from Abramoff and/or his clients.
Here are some of the players in Abramoff's world:
Edward Ayoob: Former veteran legislative aide to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, hired as a lobbyist by Abramoff. Reid, who undertook several actions favorable to Abramoff's clients, ultimately received more than $66,000 in Abramoff-related donations from 2001 to 2004. Ayoob held a fundraising reception for Reid at the offices of Abramoff's firm, Greenberg Traurig.
Edwin Buckham: Former chief of staff and an old family friend of House Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay, involved, along with former DeLay aide Mike Scanlon, in a 1999 effort by Abramoff to allegedly dangle U.S. tax dollars to influence a election for the speaker of the legislature in the Northern Mariana Islands. Along with former DeLay aide Tony Rudy, ran the lobbying firm Alexander Strategy Group, which accepted a number of clients from Abramoff and paid Christine DeLay, wife of the Majority Whip, $115,000 for work from 1998 to 2002 to determine the favorite charity of every member of Congress. Alexander Strategy Group also counted among its clients California businessman Brent Wilkes, one of four unindicted coconspirators in the bribery case of disgraced former Republican congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.
Sen. Conrad Burns: Republican Senator from Montana. As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and chair of an appropriations subcommittee that controlled spending for the Interior Department, Burns and his staff met Abramoff's lobbying team at least eight times in early 2001 and collected $12,000 in donations. Burns then voted against a bill that would have ended a "guest worker " program in the Northern Mariana Islands' garment industry; in 1999, he had voted in favor of an identical bill. Abramoff and future assistant Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella had both lobbied for the Marianas when working at the lobbying law firm Preston Gates Ellis until 2001.
In addition, two Burns aides accepted an Abramoff-arranged trip to the Super Bowl in Tampa in early 2001, and a Burns aide went to work for Abramoff as an appropriations aide. In June 2001, Burns supported a bill that urged the Interior Department to rescind a requirement that the Marianas provide matching funds for a federal program subsidizing local construction projects. Burns also wrote a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs backing a $3 million Indian school building program sought by Abramoff's tribal clients, and helped arrange for Congress to provide money for it.
Overall, Abramoff steered $147,000 to Burns' political action committee (PAC). Abramoff, partner Michael Scanlon, former DeLay aide William Jarrell, and former General Services Administration head David Safavian all once worked for Preston Gates Ellis, the law firm representing the Marianas.
Rep. Tom DeLay: Houston-area Republican Representative, longtime friend of Abramoff, and former House Majority Whip before a campaign financing indictment forced him to at least temporarily resign his post in 2005. Abramoff helped win DeLay's election as majority whip in 1994, a campaign that cemented the bond between the two. DeLay was admonished by the House of Representatives for three separate ethics violations in 2004; his solution was to appoint a new, pliant stooge to head the House Ethics Committee, Washington state Rep. Doc Hastings, a recipient of donations from DeLay's PACs and from Abramoff. DeLay's PACs are under investigation by U.S. and Texas prosecutors; more than 30 PAC-related indictments have already been issued in Texas.
A former DeLay aide, Michael Scanlon, went on to become Abramoff's business partner and has now pled guilty to helping defraud Abramoff's tribal clients and is cooperating in the investigation. Scanlon and former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham were involved in a 1999 effort by Abramoff to allegedly dangle U.S. tax dollars to influence a election for the speaker of the legislature in the Northern Mariana Islands. A few months later, DeLay was on a House committee that approved $150,000 in Northern Marianas funding.
DeLay was one of at least 85 Congressmen and aides given late '90s trips to the Northern Marianas while Abramoff was trying to win exemption from minimum wage laws and other legislation favorable to the sweatshops there. Two DeLay aides' trips were allegedly illegally paid for. Another former aide, ex-deputy chief of staff William Jarrell, joined Abramoff at Preston Gates Ellis. DeLay aides also accepted a trip from Abramoff to the 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa, along with aides to Sen. Conrad Burns. And in May 2000, DeLay, his wife, aide Tony Rudy, and another DeLay aide took a trip to Scotland sponsored by the conservative D.C. think tank the National Center for Public Policy Research, one day after two Abramoff clients each donated $25,000 to the group. At about the same time, a Virginia consulting firm registered to Rudy's wife Lisa received money apparently laundered from a $25,000 donation received by a charity of Abramoff and DeLay friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Toward Tradition. Two months later, DeLay helped kill an anti-gambling bill, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, opposed by the two Abramoff clients, the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians and eLottery.
The National Center for Public Policy Research was used again by Abramoff; in 2002 the Choctaw tribe, a client of Abramoff's, donated $1 million to the center and in 2003 Greenberg Traurig gave $1.5 million in "grants" that originated from an Abramoff client. In 2003, the National Center paid $1.275 million for consulting services to Kaygold, an LLC controlled by Abramoff. At the time, Abramoff also was on the board of the center.
Abramoff is also under investigation for providing illegal perks to DeLay such as skyboxes for local D.C. hockey and football games and trips to Moscow, London, and, on three occasions, golfing vacations to Scotland. DeLay's wife Christine was hired for $115,000 by a lobbying firm, Alexander Strategy Group that received client referrals from Abramoff. The firm, run by former DeLay aides Edwin Burkham and Rudy, employed Christine DeLay from 1998 until 2002 to compile a list of the favorite charities of every member of Congress. Alexander Strategy Group also counted among its clients California businessman Brent Wilkes, one of four unindicted coconspirators in the bribery case of disgraced former Republican congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Wilkes, whose private jet company also was hired three times by DeLay, contributed $15,000 to the DeLay PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority, now being investigated by Texas authorities in conjunction with the campaign donation probe.
As of 2000, Abramoff had funneled at least $50,000 in campaign donations to DeLay. Abramoff has since continued his hefty donations to DeLay, including money for Texans for a Republican Majority.
Rep. John Doolittle: Republican Representative from suburban Sacramento, member of the House Appropriations Committee. Under investigation for possible bribery charges. Doolittle's former chief of staff, Kevin Ring, went to work with Abramoff. Doolittle's wife, Julie, owned a consulting firm, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc., that was hired by Abramoff and his firm to do fundraising for a charity he founded, Capital Athletic Foundation, at about the time Doolittle undertook legislative actions favorable to Abramoff's clients. Overall, received some $80,000 in donations from Abramoff from 1999 to 2004. Last year, Sierra Dominion received a subpoena from the grand jury investigating Abramoff.
Sen. Byron Dorgan: Democratic Senator from North Dakota, ranking Democrat on the Indian Affairs Committee. Abramoff's firm, Greenberg Traurig, hosted a 2001 fundraising skybox for Dorgan at a hockey game. In March 2002, Abramoff instructed the Louisiana Coushatta Indians to give $5,000 to Dorgan's PAC weeks after the Dorgan solicited support for a school funding program the tribe wanted to use. The check was one of about five dozen the Coushatta sent to various lawmakers' campaigns and political causes at Abramoff's instruction. In 2003, Dorgan pushed Congress to approve legislative language urging government regulators to decide whether the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, an Abramoff client, deserved federal recognition. Dorgan also signed a letter to the Interior Department urging the continuation of a program that had the federal government and tribes sharing the cost of building tribal schools, a program pushed by Abramoff's clients. Dorgan has recently announced he will return $67,000 in donations from Abramoff and his clients.
Itallia Federici: Mutual friend of and conduit between Abramoff and Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles. Federici worked for a Republican environmental group, Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, founded by Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Abramoff had Federici seek inside information and help from Griles, such as the federal recognition of one of Abramoff's clients, the Mashpee Wampanoag, and the squelching of a proposed casino from the Jena band of Chocaw that would compete with another client. At least 33 lawmakers who wrote letters to Norton opposing the Jena casino received, in total, more than $830,000 in Abramoff-related donations from 2001 to 2004. Between 2000 and 2003, Abramoff poured over $500,000 into Federici's group in his efforts to lobby Griles through her.
Timothy Flanagan: In October 2005, the Bush White House withdrew the embattled nomination of Flanagan as Deputy Attorney General under Alberto Gonzales, in large part because of Flanagan's past dealings with Abramoff. As the lobbyist with Tyco Inc. (an Abramoff client) who worked with Abramoff, Flanagan testified that Abramoff's firm, Greenberg Traurig, promised to repay three-quarters of a $2 million fee that Tyco paid at Abramoff's direction to Grassroots Interactive, a firm owned by Ed Miller, who would become Maryland Republican governor Robert Ehrlich's deputy chief of staff. Ehrlich has received campaign contributions from Abramoff.
Steven Griles: Former Deputy Interior Secretary. Abramoff sought improper help from Griles for tribal clients, including the Mashpee Wampanoag, and in return offered him a job. Abramoff had Griles friend Itallia Federici seek inside information and help from Griles, such as the federal recognition of one of Abramoff's clients, the Mashpee Wampanoag, and the squelching of a proposed casino from the Jena band of Choctaw that would compete with another client. In turn, Abramoff used Griles to seek meetings with and favorable action from Interior Secretary Gale Norton on behalf of Abramoff's clients. Federici's nonprofit, Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, was founded by Norton.
Rep. Dennis Hastert: Northern Illinois Republican, House Majority Leader. Held a fundraiser at Abramoff's Signatures restaurant in D.C. in June 2003 that collected at least $21,500 for Hastert's Keep Our Majority PAC from Abramoff's firm and tribal clients. A week later, Hastert wrote Interior Secretary Gale Norton to urge her to reject a casino of the Jena band of Choctaw that would have competed with an Abramoff client. Between 1999-2004 received $82,000 from Abramoff.
Rep. Doc Hastings: Republican Representative from Eastern Washington, Chairman of the House Ethics Committee. Hastings has refused to allow the Ethics Committee to investigate any of the charges involving Abramoff and House members -- or any of the other ethics scandals plaguing the House of Representatives, for that matter -- since the Republican leadership appointed him to replace a more assertive chairman in February 2005. Hastings, naturally, has received campaign contributions from both Abramoff and from Americans for a Republican Majority, a PAC of former House Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay.
Adam Kidan: Met Jack Abramoff in his College Republican days. Attended an exclusive party in House Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay's office on Inauguration Day 2001 in Washington. The former owner of a Dial-a-Mattress franchise in D.C., Kidan was Abramoff's partner in a $147.5 million purchase in 2000 of a casino gambling boat company in Florida, SunCruz Casinos. Prosecutors say the purchase involved a fake wire transfer of $23 million and the falsification of loan documents. Both Kidan and Abramoff have been indicted on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. Kidan pled guilty to the charges on December 15.
The previous owner of SunCruz, Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, was killed in a gangland-style murder in Fort Lauderdale in February 2001. Three men -- Anthony Moscatiello, Anthony Ferrari, and James Fiorillo -- were charged in November 2005 in the Boulis killing. Kidan had hired Moscatiello and Ferrari to provide catering and surveillance services to SunCruz. Moscatiello, identified by authorities as a former bookkeeper for the Gambino crime family, asserted after his arrest that Ferrari had admitted to him that he and another man killed Boulis after getting a call from Kidan.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin: South African immigrant, conservative Seattle talk radio commentator, and co-chair of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians (whose board members include Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson). Once Abramoff's next door neighbor. Lapin introduced Abramoff to Rep. Tom DeLay in the early 90's. Also a close friend of former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed. DeLay and Abramoff have both been board members of Lapin's charity, Toward Tradition. Abramoff, a founder of the group, at one point proposed using Toward Tradition as a pass-through for tribal money he was funneling from Preston Gates Ellis to campaigns being run by Ralph Reed against antigambling measures, before discovering that Toward Tradition didn't have the appropriate IRS status.
Lapin was also on the payroll of Abramoff's D.C. charity, Capital Athletic Foundation, as one of four people earning a collective $20,000 a month. Capital Athletic is under investigation for hiring a consulting firm owned by the wife of California Rep. John Doolittle in exchange for favorable legislative action by Doolittle. In 2000, Lapin's religious charity received a $25,000 donation from an online gambling company, eLottery, a lobbying client of Abramoff and Preston Gates Ellis. That money was then allegedly used to pay a Virginia consulting firm, Liberty Consulting, registered to Lisa Rudy, the wife of DeLay's deputy chief of staff, Tony Rudy. At that time Rudy had been instrumental in scuttling an antigambling bill, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, that eLottery and Abramoff wanted killed.
Abramoff also funneled a lucrative $1.2 million no-bid Northern Marianas Islands government contract to Lapin's brother, Los Angeles businessman Rabbi David Lapin, to conduct ethics-in-government programs there. But near as anyone in the Marianas can determine today, David Lapin failed to provide any services.
Ed Miller: Deputy chief of staff for Republican Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich, a recipient of Abramoff campaign donations. Miller formerly ran the firm Grassroots Interactive; in 2003, his firm was the recipient of $2 million from Abramoff in fees improperly diverted from Tyco Inc. and their chief lobbyist, Timothy Flanagan. Flanagan would later be the Bush administration's choice to become deputy Attorney General under Alberto Gonzales; his nomination would fail because of his ties to Abramoff.
Rep. Robert Ney: Republican Representative from Southeast Ohio, Chairman of the House Administration Committee. Under investigation, along with his former chief of staff, Neil Volz, for possible bribery charges involving Abramoff in October 2000. Ney intervened in the purchase by Abramoff and Adam Kidan of a Florida casino gambling company, SunCruz Casinos; at the request of Abramoff associate Michael Scanlon, Ney twice inserted comments in the Congressional Record, first castigating the reputation of SunCruz's then-owner, Konstantinos "Gus " Boulis, during contentious purchase negotiations, and later praising Kidan's new management.
Ney also took an allegedly illegal 2002 golfing trip to Scotland paid for by Abramoff. (General Services Administration head David Safavian, anti-tax guru Grover Norquist, and former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed were on the same trip.) Ney then provided help to two Texas tribal clients of Abramoff that wanted permission to open casinos. In one case in December 2002, Ney sought help from another unidentified House member for one of the tribes. Ney also allegedly met with a member of a California tribe doing business with Abramoff and agreed to help pass tax legislation affecting the tribe. Received $62,000 from Abramoff from 1999-2004.
Grover Norquist: Guru of the anti-tax, neo-con movement, best known for his desire to reduce government to the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub. Norquist met Abramoff through the College Republicans in the early '80s; he managed Abramoff's successful campaign to become chair of that group. Norquist co-authored Newt Gingrich's 1994 "Contract with America, " and gained influence as a close ally of Gingrich. He worked with Abramoff to lobby for the Northern Mariana Islands sweatshops.
Ralph Reed and Norquist are implicated in the questionable funneling by Abramoff of more than $4 million of Preston Gates Ellis Native American client funds to back antigambling campaigns run by Reed from 1999 to 2003. In one case involving funds from an Indian casino client, as much as $1.3 million in client funds may have been used to launch a campaign. At least some of the Preston Gates money was allegedly laundered through Norquist's anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform, which took a cut. The point was for Abramoff's Native American casino clients to pay for campaigns that would shut out potential competition from state lotteries or new casinos. Americans for Tax Reform also laundered Reed money from Abramoff client eLottery to help defeat the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act in 2000.
Norquist accompanied Abramoff, Ralph Reed, General Services Administration head David Safavian, and Ohio Rep. Robert Ney on a 2002 golf trip to Scotland in which Abramoff allegedly illegally picked up the costs for Ney and for Safavian, a former Norquist business partner in the firm Janus Merritt Strategies. Norquist raised big bucks for the 2004 Bush re-election. He also chairs the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, established to build monuments to Reagan; fellow board members include former House Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Bush political advisor Karl Rove, and Rabbi Daniel Lapin.
Patrick Pizzela: 2001 Bush appointee as assistant Secretary of Labor, was a member of Abramoff's legal team lobbying for sweatshops in the Northern Marianas Islands when both were at Preston Gates Ellis. (Yes, that's right, Bush appointed a former sweatshop lobbyist to the Department of Labor.) Worked for Abramoff to help eLottery stop the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act in 2000.
Rep. Richard Pombo: Republican Congressman from a district east of the San Francisco Bay Area. Pombo has received at least $40,000 from Abramoff and tribal members of the Mashpee Wampanoag, an Abramoff client. Pombo chairs the Committee on Resources that oversees the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 2004, Pombo pushed a bill through his committee that would have helped the tribe receive federal benefits and advance its struggle for federal recognition. Federal recognition, by granting a tribe sovereignty, gives it the jurisdiction to open a casino, which many of Abramoff's tribal clients have done.
Ralph Reed: Former Christian Coalition golden boy, former chairman of the College Republicans (where he succeeded Jack Abramoff), high-ranking Bush re-election official, and current candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. Reed is also a former consultant for Preston Gates Ellis, Abramoff's employer from 1994 to 2001.
In 2000, received money from Abramoff client eLottery to help kill an antigambling bill, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act; some of the money was routed through Grover Norquist's anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform. Reed and Norquist are implicated in the questionable funneling by Abramoff of more than $4 million of Preston Gates Ellis Native American client funds to back antigambling campaigns run by Reed from 1999 to 2003. In one case involving funds from an Indian casino client, as much as $1.3 million in client funds may have been used to launch a campaign. At least some of the Preston Gates money was again allegedly laundered through Americans for Tax Reform. The point was for Abramoff's Native American casino clients to pay for campaigns that would shut out potential competition from state lotteries or new casinos. Reed was also on the 2002 Scotland golf trip with Norquist, David Safavian, and Rep. Robert Ney, allegedly illegally paid for by Abramoff.
Sen. Harry Reid: Nevada Democrat, Senate Minority Leader. Sent a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton in March 2002 to urge her to reject a casino of the Jena band of Choctaw that would have competed with an Abramoff client. The next day, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana issued a $5,000 check to Reid's tax-exempt political group, the Searchlight Leadership Fund. A second Abramoff tribe also sent $5,000 to Reid's group. Reid ultimately received more than $66,000 in Abramoff-related donations from 2001 to 2004. Abramoff also hired as a lobbyist a former Reid legislative aide, Edward Ayoob. Ayoob held a fundraising reception for Reid at the offices of Abramoff's firm, Greenberg Traurig.
Tony Rudy: Deputy chief of staff to former House Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay. Investigators are looking into whether Rudy aided Abramoff's clients while working for DeLay. Rudy was instrumental in killing a 2000 antigambling bill, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, opposed by Abramoff client eLottery. At about the same time, a Virginia consulting firm registered to Rudy's wife Lisa, Liberty Consulting, received payments from Abramoff clients and associates, and received eLottery money apparently laundered from a $25,000 donation received by Toward Tradition, a charity of Abramoff and DeLay associate Rabbi Daniel Lapin.
That summer, Rudy traveled on two luxury trips with Abramoff, including one with DeLay, DeLay's wife Christine, and another DeLay aide to Scotland partly paid for by eLottery through an intermediary. The other trip was to Pebble Beach, California, on a corporate jet belonging to SunCruz Casinos, the Florida casino gambling boat company Abramoff and partner Adam Kidan were then negotiating to buy. Rudy was listed as a personal reference by Abramoff in that purchase, a purchase for which Abramoff and Kidan have now been indicted on wire fraud and conspiracy charges.
Rudy left DeLay's office in 2001 to work for Abramoff. Later, along with former DeLay aide Edwin Burkham, he ran the lobbying firm Alexander Strategy Group, which accepted a number of clients from Abramoff and paid Christine DeLay, wife of the Majority Whip, $115,000 from 1998 to 2002 to determine the favorite charity of every member of Congress. Alexander Strategy Group also counted among its clients California businessman Brent Wilkes, one of four unindicted coconspirators in the bribery case of disgraced former Republican congressman Randy "Duke " Cunningham.
David Safavian: Bush appointee; as the chief of staff of the General Services Administration, he was in the lucrative position of being the chief procurement officer for the federal government. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee held up Safavian's nomination for more than a year, in part because of lawmakers' concerns about his lobbying work for two men later accused of links to suspected terrorist organizations.
Safavian resigned when he was arrested in September 2005 and charged with three counts of making false statements and obstruction of justice in connection with an investigation into Abramoff's attempts to buy land from the federal government. Along with DeLay aide Tony Rudy, former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, anti-tax guru Grover Norquist, and Rep. Robert Ney, Safavian took a 2002 golfing trip to Scotland allegedly illegally paid for by Abramoff; he is accused of lying to investigators by denying that, at the time, Abramoff was seeking to do business with the GSA. Safavian is yet another former employee of Preston Gates Ellis; while with that law firm, he shared with Abramoff as a client the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians. Safavian went on to found Janus Merritt Strategies with Norquist.
Michael Scanlon: Scanlon, 35, is a former press secretary to Rep. Tom DeLay and business partner of Jack Abramoff. He has reached a plea bargain with federal prosecutors and is thought likely to testify against Abramoff and other former colleagues, breaking the scandal wide open. In particular, Scanlon may be able to specify which Congressmembers specifically agreed to trade actions favorable to Abramoff and Scanlon's clients for donations, gifts, and trips.
Scanlon left DeLay's office to join Abramoff at the lobbying firm Preston Gates Ellis;; he was involved, along with former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham, in a 1999 effort by Abramoff to allegedly dangle U.S. tax dollars to influence a election for the speaker of the legislature in the Northern Mariana Islands. In 2001, he left Preston Gates Ellis to start his own consulting service, and joined forces with Abramoff (who had also left Preston Gates Ellis, for Greenberg Traurig) to focus on tribal casino interests. Between the two firms, it is estimated the pair collected some $82 million in highly inflated fees from tribal clients. The pair allegedly defrauded their clients; Abramoff would refer clients to Scanlon without telling them that Scanlon was kicking back a percentage of the fees to Abramoff. The pair would then allegedly use some of the proceeds to bribe members of Congress.
Neil Volz: Former chief of staff for Ohio Rep. Robert Ney; both are now under investigation for possible bribery charges in connection with Ney's efforts to help Abramoff and Adam Kidan buy SunCruz Casinos, a Florida gambling boat venture, in 2000.