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June 22, 2005

Gimme five

The wild and wacky world of the super-lobbyist:

June 22 (Bloomberg) – Jack Abramoff, a former lobbyist who is the subject of a federal investigation, diverted funds from Indian tribes into projects ranging from an Orthodox Jewish academy to an Israeli sniper school, new documents show.
Abramoff and partner Michael Scanlon inflated expenses and divided the profits from $15 million in payments from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, according to testimony and e-mails released at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing. The two men told the Indians they used the money for a lobbying campaign to prevent rival casinos from opening, said witnesses, including Donald Kilgore, the tribe’s attorney general.
… Some of the fees were funneled though a nonprofit tax-exempt organization, and much of the money went into Abramoff’s own bank account – unknown to the tribes or the nonprofit group. It was part of what Abramoff labeled his “gimme five” program, according to the e-mails and testimony.

In reality it was more like “gimme 85,” which was the percentage Abramoff and his partner creamed off $7.7 million they charged the Choctaws for “services” in 2001.

… [Abramoff’s Capital Athletic Foundation charity] also sent payments to a friend of Abramoff’s who ran sniper workshops for the Israeli Defense Force.
… Abramoff’s friend once suggested that he could write a letter with the workshop’s logo as an “educational entity” when Abramoff was trying to figure out how to match the payments with the foundation’s mission, McCain said, citing Abramoff’s secretary.
“No, don’t do that,” Abramoff replied in the e-mail. “I don’t want sniper letterhead.”

Still, some of that syphoned cash did go to good causes. Part of it sponsored a 2000 congressional golf trip to Scotland, which included House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Abramoff. And the Choctaw recently discovered that they contributed to Republican consultant Ralph Reed’s campaign to become Georgia’s lieutenant governor—a campaign that is hopefully now dead in the water.

A spokesman for Abramoff, interviewed by NPR’s “All Things Considered,” said that “any fair reading of Mr. Abramoff’s career would show that his clients gained immense benefits from his work.”

Posted by Stephen at 8:06 PM in Politics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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