John McCain May Have Covered Up Abramoff Email to Protect GOP

On the stump, Sen. John McCain often cites his work tackling the excesses of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff as evidence of his sturdy ethical compass.

A little-known document, however, shows that McCain may have taken steps to protect his Republican colleagues from the scope of his investigation.

In the 2006 Senate report concerning Abramoff's activities, which McCain spearheaded, the Arizona Republican conspicuously left out information detailing how Alabama Gov. Bob Riley was targeted by Abramoff's influence peddling scheme. Riley, a Republican, won election in November 2002, and was reelected in 2006.

In a December 2002 email obtained by the Huffington Post -- which McCain and his staff had access to prior to the issuance of his report -- Abramoff explains to an aide what he would like to see Riley do in return for the "help" he received from Abramoff's tribal clients.

An official with the Mississippi Choctaws "definitely wants Riley to shut down the Poarch Creek operation," Abramoff wrote, "including his announcing that anyone caught gambling there can't qualify for a state contract or something like that."

The note showed not only the reach of Abramoff, but raised questions about Riley's victory in what was the closest gubernatorial election in Alabama history.

And yet, despite the implications of the information, McCain and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee sat on the controversial portion of the email. According to an official familiar with the investigation, McCain also subsequently refused to make the email public after the report was released.

There was a brief footnote in the report that quoted William Worfel, former vice chairman of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, saying that Abramoff told the chief of a Mississippi tribe to spend $13 million "to get the governor of Alabama elected to keep gaming out of Alabama so it wouldn't hurt ... his market in Mississippi."

But Riley's name and the details of what was being asked of him were not mentioned once in the 373-page document.

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