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August 13, 2008

Abramoff co-conspirator Ralph Reed to hold fundraiser for John McCain

John McCain famously led the Senate Indian Affairs Committee investigation into a scandal called "Gimme Five." Jack Abramoff and fellow lobbyist Michael Scanlon bilked Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars.

Abramoff would get himself hired as a lobbyist for a casino rich tribe. In this capacity, he would advise the tribe to hire consultants, including Ralph Reed. The tribes didn't know that Abramoff and his confederates were splitting the consulting fees and taking millions of dollars for virtually no work. The scam was called "Gimme Five" because Scanlon and Abramoff split the profits fifty-fifty.

Reed was in league with Abramoff. But unlike the beach bum Michael Scanlon, Reed actually did some real work. Abramoff hired Reed to rile up evangelicals in Alabama to fight a proposed state lottery, which would have cut into the casino profits of Abramoff's tribal client.

Abramoff and Scanlon laundered their money through a variety of organizations, including Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform.

McCain was criticized for withholding the majority of documents subpoeaned in the course of the investigation.

Abramoff's firm, Greenberg Traurig, is very grateful to McCain.

Evidently, so is Ralph Reed. Reed is holding a fundraiser for McCain in Georgia, which McCain plans to attend. What a maverick!
 

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From where did you get the "dirt" that Reed did something illegal?
I thought Ralph Reed was not investigated according to the study that progressives "cling" to about the Department of Justice under George Bush targeting Democrats.
Omitted Data
Just a few Google searches found several instances of Republican elected officials who were investigated by the Department of Justice but which were not included in the authors’ data set. My quick search revealed 6 Republican elected officials or candidates who have been served with subpoenas or had their offices searched as part of federal investigations.

Ralph Reed is perhaps most prominent of the names omitted. Reed was subpoenaed as part of the investigation into Jack Abramoff’s misdeeds, while Reed was a candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. However, Reed is not included in Shields’ and Cragan’s “study.”

I got it from the Senate Indian Affairs Committee report, Gimme Five and the supporting documentation. Emails, financial records, campaign finance documents, you name it.

There is absolutely no question that Ralph Reed conspired with Jack Abramoff in the Gimme Five racket.

The record is so damning that the fact that Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist aren't in prison is prima facie evidence of political favoritism at the DOJ and beyond.

Yeah Lindsay, leave Ralph Reed alooooone!

Just cause he's a thieving little pigfucker that helped sell democracy by the pound via the K-Street project, why should you say anything bad about him.

McCain is just bought and paid for, another empty suit from the right, and this latest turn events is just more evidence.


Nice answer Lindsay! Give 'em hell!

I understood that Reed's role in the scandal was to rally opposition to specific instances of gambling initiatives among conservative Christians by who were against gambling generally when what Reed was really doing was seeking to defeat some gambling interests in order to benefit the casino gambling operations of the tribes that hired Abramoff. That's clearly dishonest and hypocritical, but I don't see where it's illegal.

Can you be more specific about the part of the record that supports the notion that the failure to send Reed and Norquist to prison for their role in the scheme is evidence of political favoritism at the DOJ? What did Reed do that was illegal?

Reed conspired with Abramoff and Michael Scanlon in the larger Gimme Five lobbying/kickback scheme. Everyone's innocent until proven guilty, of course. However, the public record seems to implicate Reed in money laundering, conspiracy, campaign finance violations, mail fraud, and various other misdeeds. The current public record is just the tip of the iceberg, thanks in no small part to John McCain.

I recommend the original Gimme Five report. It's available for free on the Indian Affairs Committee website. It reads like a novel.

Thanks to the tip about the Gimme Five report--at 373 pages, it could be a novel! While I'm reading, can you tell me the single most egregiouis action by Reed you would characterize as illegal? I'm not sure that a record that "seems to implicate" someone is quite as strong as "prima facie evidence." What do you see as the smoking gun?

Yeah, that's how I always understood it too, was that Reed represented tribal casinos, mainly Choctaw, on the QT. Abramoff, and I recall Reed, were also implicated in seriously bilking large sums of money from said tribes. Via TPM, they followed the deal for a while

Reed's been in it up to his neck for a while.

TB, I think Reed was less involved in bilking the tribes. aHe actually did the work of raising grassroots opposition to the state lottery proposed in Alabama--the Gimme Five report that Lindsay references says the Choctaw were actually pleased with what Reed did for them. But Reed didn't want people to know it was actually pro-gaming interests that were paying him, so he got Abramoff to funnel the money for Reed's worth through other firms. And according to the report, Abramoff and Scanlon squeezed Reed out later on so they could keep more of the money themselves.

So again, Reed'sa sleazy hypocrite--but I'm not seeing what he did that was illegal.

To me, the smoking gun is the email from Jack Abramoff entitled "Call Ralph about Grover Doing the Pass-Through." Ralph didn't want to get paid by the Mississippi Choctaw Indians directly, because that would make him look like the hypocrite he is.

So, Reed, Abramoff, and Grover Norquist laundered the gambling money through Americans For Tax Reform. Abramoff sent the money to Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist took a cut and passed the rest on to Reed.

That's illegal. For starters, AFTR is a non-profit that has no business routing political consulting fees on behalf of lobbyists.

Knowing what he does about Reed from the Indian Affairs Committee, why doesn’t McCain scrape him off his shoe and fling him into the gutter where he belongs? It wouldn’t be because our straight talkin’ flyboy hero statesman has morphed into a garden variety whore would it? It appears McCain prefers to track Reed indoors and right onto the carpet.

And the passthrough stuff is just what we know from the highly abridged and heavily redacted fraction of all the documents collected by McCain's committee.

It's clear that the DOJ didn't evaluate Reed and Norquist by the standards they used to prosecute Democrats like Don Siegelman and Paul Minor.

Lindsay, is it your point that it's illegal for a non-profit organization to pay lobbyists? And if it is, isn't the crime committed by the non-profit, rather than the consultants they pay? I understand these laws regarding financial transactions are often complex, but I don't understand what you are saying is the criminal behavior here.

Like so many republicans, ralph reed is a morally bankrupt, ass-kissing, hypocritical closet-case homosexual.

While he's at it, McCain should pick Larry Craig for VP.

Norquist abused his authority as the head of Americans for Tax Reform to enrich himself and his cronies while concealing the true source of the funds.

It's illegal for non-profits like AFTR to engage in partisan political activity.

There's also the fraud and mail fraud angles to consider. Americans for Tax Reform was nominally paying Ralph Reed for some service to AFTR. In fact, the DC-based organization was paying Reed (with Abramoff's dirty money) to run a political campaign in Alabama.

It wasn't a trivial sum, either--$4 million dollars in total. A lot of that money found its way into election campaigns through a front group called Citizens Against Legalized Gambling.

Americans for Tax Reform the organization may well have been victimized by Norquist. There's no evidence that AFTR's board of directors authorized Norquist to enrich himself by laundering money. Norquist may have mislead them about what he was spending all this money on. He would have had to falsify records and sign off on false tax returns in order to make it look like AFTR was paying Reed legitimately.

I'm not sure that your analysis of AFTR's activities is correct in every respect, but if, for example, it's illegal for AFTR to claim non-profit status while paying Reed, that doesn't mean Reed's committed a crime by accepting payment from them. Are you saying it was illegal for Reed to accept the payment?

You also keep referring to money laundering, which I understand to be financial transactions in order to conceal the identity, source, and/or destination of money derived from criminal activity. However, I'm don't understand the laws regarding money laundering very well. Are you saying it is illegal for Reed to accept payment through a third party to conceal from his conservative supporters his employment by gambling interests?


th,

I agree with you that Ralph Reed is morally bankrupt, ass-kissing, and hypocritical. "If the shoe fits, wear it," I say.

However, I don't understand how being called a homosexual, or even a closet homosexual, is supposed to be an insult along with invectives like morally bankrupt, ass-kissing, and hypocritical. Is it more despicable to be a closet homosexual who is morally bankrupt, ass-kissing, and hypocritical than, say, a heterosexual who has the same character flaws?

Would you explain your intent in more detail, please?

Parse, I don't see in Lindsay's original post where she said "crime" or "illegal." The worst I see there is "co-conspirator," which may have a legal definition that includes criminal activity, but which also has meaning outside the legal term. It sounds to me like there was something of a conspiracy, and that Ralph Reed was a beneficiary of that conspiracy. I don't really get the point of your fine parsing; McCain is not distancing himself from people who have gotten involved in some pretty shady dealings. I think that's the point here.

Michael, my question about illegal behavior was promoted by Lindsay's comment The record is so damning that the fact that Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist aren't in prison is prima facie evidence of political favoritism at the DOJ and beyond. If I was mistaken to think she was suggesting Reed was guilty of a crime, I think she would have pointed that out in her several replies to my question.

I don't think asking for evidence to support claims of illegal behavior is "fine parsing." It's pretty serious to say that someone belongs in prison.


I am really glad to read the back-and-forth comments, above, where we put the onus on each other to be clear and precise in the choice of words, the implications they suggest, and the basis of our proffered facts and conclusions.

Yes, it's illegal to conspire to funnel money through a tax-exempt organization under false pretenses, doubly so if the deception also hides the fact that the non-profit is participating in non-tax-exempt election activities.

Ultimately, hundreds of thousands of those dollars went directly from Citizens Against Gambling Expansion into the coffers of Republican candidates in the 2002 election, especially in Alabama.

Moving money around with the sole intent of hiding Ralph Reed's ties to gambling money wouldn't have been money laundering. However, the money was the fruit of the larger Gimme Five conspiracy. Also, Reed and Norquist were both concealing campaign contributions originating with the Indian tribe and terminating in Republican coffers. The goal of the passthroughs wasn't just to protect Reed, it was also to protect Abramoff's clients who wanted to give campaign contributions without creating a paper trial. Moving money around to conceal illegal or unreported campaign contributions is money laundering.

Yes, Reed and Abramoff committed crimes when they arranged for Grover Norquist to launder the money. They set up the scheme. They also paid Grover Norquist to abuse his position as the head of AFTR. They used interstate mail and email to do it--which is important because it the DOJ has set a precedent in public corruption cases against Democrats where mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud are favorite charges.

The "call Ralph about Grover doing the pass-through" email is a smoking gun because it establishes that Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff orchestrated this transaction in order to conceal the source of the money. If Norquist was going to make it look like the money came from AFTR, he'd have to deceive people within the organization in order to do so. Those acts of deception are crimes in and of themselves. Abramoff, Reed, and Norquist had no right to use the cover of a legitimate tax-exempt organization to enrich themselves and hide their nefarious activities. Nor was it legal for AFTR to participate in partisan political activity because it's a 501(c)3 organization. It wasn't fair to the members of the organization, who expected their organization to be run in a transparent and legal manner. It also wasn't fair to US taxpayers who gave AFTR a tax break on the condition that it use its money to benefit the community in nonpartisan ways.

Lindsay, as I say, I don't understand the laws regarding money laundering that well, and I wonder what your level of expertise is. When you say something is illegal, do you mean that you suppose that it is, based on your general understanding of the relevant laws, or that you are aware of some state of Federal statute that you think the behavior describing violates?

Lindsay already clarified her comments about Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist not being in prison: "It's clear that the DOJ didn't evaluate Reed and Norquist by the standards they used to prosecute Democrats like Don Siegelman and Paul Minor."


Expand Worker's Rights by Developing an Employee Bill of Rights

The rights of workers have been on the decline. It is time to reverse that trend and begin to give workers, the backbone of the US economy, the rights they deserve. Workers need a living wage not a minimum wage; access to health care and no unilateral reductions in medical benefits and pensions for current employees and retirees. Employers should not be able to avoid these benefits by hiring temporary workers or independent contractors. The privacy of employees needs to be vigorously protected. The notorious Taft-Hartley Act that makes it extremely difficult for employees to organize unions needs to be repealed. It has resulted in less than 10% of the private workforce being unionized, the lowest in 60 years and the lowest percentage in the western world. Non-union workers need upgraded rights against the likes of Wal-Mart.

Labor Day: A Call for Rights for Working People

Washington, DC: The Nader Campaign joins Paul Tobias of Workplace Fairness in calling for a civil rights movement for workers. Under current law, a worker's freedom is subordinated to employer property rights.

The general rule of law for employees is employment at will: an employee can be fired for any reason, no reason, or a bad reason, without recourse. Workers gained rights in the early twentieth century when the union movement developed, with workers joining together to bargain with employers. But that movement was stalled by laws that put up barriers to workers' joining together in a union. The civil rights movement for workers should seek a Bill of Rights for Workers, including the right to organize a union and the right to earn a living wage for all full-time workers.

America's working men and women have been abandoned by the corporate-dominated two-party system. The evidence is everywhere. The percentage of union members in the private economy has dropped below ten percent, the lowest in over sixty years. At the heart of this decline are labor laws which throw insurmountable barriers before organizing efforts. A professional class of public relations consultants and lawyers has evolved to counsel employers on ways to take full advantage of the Taft-Hartley Act in fendeng off organizing efforts. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) gives employers plenty of ways to prevent workers from exercising their supposed right of freedom of association.

The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 makes it extremely difficult for employees to organize unions and should be repealed. Among the key provisions of

Taft-Hartley

* Taft-Hartley authorizes states to enact so-called 'right-to-work' laws. These laws undermine workers' ability to build effective unions by creating a free-rider problem workers can enjoy the benefits of union membership in a workplace without actually joining the union or paying union dues. Right-to-work laws increase employer leverage in resisting unions by enabling them to benefit from free riders. Vastly decreased union membership follows, dramatically diminishing the unions' bargaining power.

More at http://www.votenader.org/issues/labor/workers-rights/


Sorry. I posted on the wrong thread.

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