Christian Coalition leader taking casino money from abramoff

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Christian Coalition leader taking casino money from abramoff

How convinient it is to preach moral values...when you're pocketing millions of dollars and taking golf trips while millions starve world wide. I just really have sooooo much fucking respect for the multi-million dollar christians out there preaching the good word with a golf club in hand as children die. I love it.

A photograph of a 2002 golf trip to St. Andrews in Scotland shows, from left in the front row, the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, David H. Safavian and Representative Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio

Senate Report Lists Lobbyist's Payments to Ex-Leader of Christian Coalition

Published: June 23, 2006

WASHINGTON, June 22 ? A bipartisan Senate report released on Thursday documented more than $5.3 million in payments to Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition and a leading Republican Party strategist, from an influence-peddling operation run by the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff on behalf of Indian tribe casinos.

The report by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee portrayed Mr. Reed, now a candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in his home state of Georgia, as a central figure in Mr. Abramoff's lobbying operation, the focus of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

Mr. Reed was depicted as having used his contacts among conservative Christian groups in the South and Southwest beginning in the late 1990's to block the opening or expansion of casinos that might compete with the gambling operations of Mr. Abramoff's clients.

Mr. Abramoff and his former partner, Michael Scanlon, have pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt public officials and bilking some Indian tribe clients out of tens of millions of dollars. They are cooperating with a federal grand-jury investigation that is threatening to derail the careers of several members of Congress.

There has been no suggestion by prosecutors that Mr. Reed is under special scrutiny by the grand jury.

Mr. Reed's name was invoked repeatedly this month at the trial of David H. Safavian, a former White House aide who was convicted of lying to investigators about a 2002 golf trip to Scotland with Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Reed and Representative Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio.

In a statement issued through his campaign office in response to the report, Mr. Reed portrayed the report as a vindication. He said that while "it is now clear with the benefit of hindsight that this is a piece of business I should have declined," the report "confirms that I have not been accused of any wrongdoing."

The Senate report, a result of a two-year investigation by the Indian Affairs Committee, said of Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon, "The depth and breadth of their misconduct was astonishing."

While not accusing Mr. Reed of having knowledge of their crimes, the new report offers a rich ? and for Mr. Reed potentially damaging ? chronology of his close friendship with Mr. Abramoff and of the millions of dollars that Mr. Abramoff directed to Mr. Reed from Indian tribe clients who were seeking to protect their casinos from competition.

The report also raised new questions about the actions of Mr. Ney, who has acknowledged that he has been subpoenaed for information by the grand jury in Washington.

The Senate committee suggested that there was extensive evidence to dispute statements made by Mr. Ney to its investigators that he had done no special favors for a small tribe in El Paso that paid millions of dollars to Mr. Abramoff in a fruitless effort to reopen a shuttered casino. The tribe, the Tiguas, was asked by Mr. Abramoff to underwrite Mr. Ney's trip to Scotland.

A spokesman for Mr. Ney, Brian J. Walsh, said that the lawmaker had told the truth to the Senate investigators as he recalled it and that "all this report shows is the lengths to which Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon and others who have pleaded guilty" would go "to further their own greed."

In his statement on Thursday, Mr. Reed said he had agreed to organize the antigambling campaigns for Mr. Abramoff after receiving assurances "that I would not be paid with funds derived from gambling."

In many cases, the report found, payments to Mr. Reed were handled through third parties in what appeared to be an effort to disguise the fact that the money was from tribes with large casino operations.

The report quoted a tribe leader from Louisiana as saying he was told to keep quiet about Mr. Reed because "he's Christian Coalition ? it wouldn't look good if they're receiving money from a casino-operating tribe to oppose gambling."

The report says that Mr. Abramoff turned to Mr. Reed in his efforts to defend Indian tribes that were threatened by competition; Mr. Reed organized lobbying to block the opening of new gambling operations in those states.

"The vendor that Abramoff and Scanlon used, and relied on, the most to implement those campaigns was former Christian Coalition executive director and political strategist Ralph Reed," the report concluded. "Reed conducted a variety of grass-roots activities in support of the interests of Abramoff gaming clients."

The Senate report documented payments to Mr. Reed from two sources, $1.3 million from the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi, paid through Mr. Abramoff's law firm, Preston Gates, through May 1999 and $4 million that Mr. Reed and his associates received from organizations controlled by Mr. Scanlon in 2001 and 2002.

The report found that Mr. Reed's involvement with Mr. Abramoff's Indian tribe clients dated from 1998, when Mr. Reed sent an e-mail message to Mr. Abramoff noting that he was "done with electoral politics" and, "I need to start humping in corporate accounts! ? I'm counting on you to help me with some contacts." The report said that Mr. Abramoff "recommended the Choctaw hire Reed to orchestrate an anti-gaming effort" to block the opening of new casinos.

Democrats criticized the Senate report for failing to review the actions of several other Republican lawmakers who accepted large campaign contributions from the lobbyist and his clients, notably Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, who faces a tough re-election fight in November.

The Democratic National Committee said Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who is chairman of the committee, had "sidestepped an opportunity to restore America's confidence in the Republican-controlled Congress plagued by continuing scandal."

A spokesman for Mr. McCain, Mark Salter, said the panel had jurisdiction only to draw conclusions in cases in which tribes had been defrauded. He said the report "pulled no punches."

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