Saturday, June 04, 2005

Pay to Play Politics

For a blunt illustration of how policy is dictated by lobbyists, connections and the casual quasi-bribery that passes for campaign contributions, Boston Globe reporter Michael Kranish has a must-read story. In it, he chronicles how embattled Republican activists Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist launch campaigns against Indian gaming while being funded by casino dollars.

Talk about your garden variety whores. These power-drunk, money-grubbing sluts make Jeff Gannon look like a bald Gidget.

While the story is well worth reading in its entirety, let me offer you one brief anecdote in the story that involves the Speaking Rock Casino in El Paso, Texas, a gaming establishment operated by the Tiguas, a small and historically impoverished American Indian tribe. Reed and Abramoff, staunch (up to a point, anyway) opponents of gambling, had coordinated efforts in 2002 to shut down the Speaking Rock, a strategy that included a multimedia attack campaign paid for by rival Louisiana-based tribes that had their own gambling enterprises to protect.

While much of the information in Kranish's article isn't new, he nicely wraps up a number of events, distilling for us the mesquite-flavored Machiavellians:

"Abramoff then launched an effort to get hired by the Tiguas, vowing that he could use his connections to top Republicans to get it reopened. He never mentioned to tribal leaders that his firm was also paying Reed, who had just run the campaign to get the casino closed.

"Privately, Abramoff told Reed his view about the tribe in an e-mail obtained as part of the Senate investigation.

" 'I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions,' Abramoff wrote to Reed, referring to the tribal support for Democrats. ''I'd love us to get our mitts on that moolah!! Oh well, stupid folks get wiped out.'

"The next day, Abramoff and his partner in the Indian gaming deals, Michael Scanlon, who worked at a separate company, boarded a private jet to El Paso, where they met with a tribal lawyer.

"Abramoff laid out an elaborate plan. He offered to work for free, but he wanted the Tiguas to pay Scanlon $4.2 million. That would allow Abramoff to avoid registering as a lobbyist for the Tiguas, which might have upset competing tribal clients. Scanlon eventually sent half of the $4.2 million to Abramoff, Senate investigators found.

"Abramoff's calling card was his tie to Republican Party leaders. He boasted to the tribal leaders about his access to Bush, and noted that his law firm based in Miami, Greenberg Traurig, worked on the Florida case that helped put Bush in the White House."

Of course, Abramoff didn't actually know Dubya, but no matter. Abramoff, as we all know now, did have the ear of second- and third-tier assholes, decent God-fearin' folk like Tom "the Hammer" DeLay.


At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Patrick said...

Wow! What an insipid little bunch of power drunk, money grubbin', fear mongering, right-wing Republicans. They're not whores though, just high-paid call girls.


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