Dec 9, 2013
Posted on Dec 7, 2005
Call it Tonto’s revenge: The outrageous rip-off of Native American tribes by a top Republican lobbyist is leading inexorably to a reckoning for the allegedly morally superior religious and political right.
Selling firewater to the natives—or in this case charging them $82 million for government breaks on slot machine and other gaming licenses—is not exactly what the high-minded prophets of the Republican revolution promised. And to see behind the scenes as Christian right superstar Ralph Reed, bought off by top Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, dupes his grass-roots “pro-family” followers into unwittingly supporting casino-rich Indian tribes under the guise of anti-gambling initiatives is to glimpse moral corruption of biblical proportion.
Furthermore, the release of a treasure trove of documentation on the Abramoff investigation to the Internet by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chair of the Senate’s Indian Affairs Committee, makes it clear that Abramoff and his colleagues had no interest in the finer points of morality when they were transferring huge sums of cash from the tribes to the accounts of such allegedly high-minded heavyweight pro-Republican outfits as Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform.
Reading the documents, in fact, is a horrifying look at democracy for sale. For example, an Abramoff e-mail to Reed about a conversation the lobbyist had with Nell Rogers, a Choctaw representative: “Spoke with Nell. They have a budget issue. They want to know if we can get through to October on $1 million. Can we? If not, let me know.”
Overall, both Reed, once the religious right’s boy savior, and Abramoff, the former head of the College Republicans, a “Pioneer”-grade fundraiser for President Bush and a stalwart friend of Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, come off as morally degenerate political savants in the Senate committee’s files. Reed seems possessed by the gods of greed as he exults, “I need to start humping in corporate accounts!”
But Abramoffgate goes much higher than these two political pimps. In those e-mails between Abramoff and Scanlon, it is clear that they trafficked in their ties to DeLay and others in the Republican leadership. As the Washington Post reported, Abramoff “cultivated a reputation as the best-connected Republican lobbyist in Washington,” and it was not a false claim. DeLay, who referred to Abramoff as “one of my closest and dearest friends,” received no fewer than three free golf trips to Scotland from Abramoff, among other payoffs.
Both DeLay and Abramoff are under indictment in other cases but not, as of yet, this one. Scanlon has already pleaded guilty to conspiring with Abramoff to defraud various Indian tribes and bribe government officials. Former White House official David Safavian has been indicted for allegedly lying about his ties to Abramoff. The bet now is that Abramoff will also cop a plea bargain instead of spending many years in jail and paying even larger fines than the $19.7 million Scanlon has accepted.
If so, more depressing tales of corruption may be detailed publicly. But what is already clear is that the Republicans’ reputation for moral superiority is as dead as the Lone Ranger.
—Posted by Robert Scheer.
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