This is an amazing story. Besides the obvious idiocy of the entire thing what's intersting is who these guys had as firends...all the usual suspectsWashington Post
Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and public relations executive Michael Scanlon formed a secret partnership that corruptly influenced Indian tribal elections in order to bilk tribes that operate gambling casinos out of more than $66 million in fees, lawmakers charged yesterday during an unusual Senate committee hearing.
Abramoff, appearing under subpoena before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, endured blistering attacks from senator after senator, turning aside all questions by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Scanlon dodged U.S. marshals who attempted to serve him with a subpoena compelling him to appear, according to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who with the panel's chairman, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), has been leading the seven-month investigation into Abramoff's and Scanlon's activities.
Nighthorse Campbell said the documentary trail developed by the committee, including the e-mails released yesterday, tell a story of unbounded greed. He said he believes Abramoff privately showed bigotry and contempt for tribal officials who were awarding him and Scanlon multimillion-dollar contracts, referring to them as "idiots" and "troglodytes."
"Do you refer to all your clients as 'morons'?" he demanded of Abramoff. The witness, flanked by lawyer Abbe D. Lowell, looked abashed but did not answer, citing his right against self-incrimination.
The activities of Abramoff, once a powerful lobbyist with extensive ties to Republican leaders, and Scanlon, a former spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-Tex.)
, are also being investigated by a federal grand jury in Washington.
Lawmakers yesterday cited the pair's e-mail traffic, which the panel subpoenaed from Greenberg Traurig, where Abramoff was head of government relations until March, when he quit under pressure.
When Scanlon complained on March 5, 2003, about an Agua Caliente tribal member, Abramoff counseled: "I think the key thing to remember with all these clients is that they are annoying, but that the annoying losers are the only ones which have this kind of money and part with it so quickly."
Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) strained to find words to describe the e-mails and other evidence, calling the two men's activities "a cesspool of greed, a disgusting pattern, certainly, of moral corruption, possibly of criminal corruption. . . . a pathetic, disgusting example of greed run amok."
"I think all of us know this is the most extraordinary pattern of abuse to come before this committee in the 18 years I've served here," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who described the pair's conduct as "scuzzy" and "outrageous."
Further from the NY Times
Documents cited...that the men dropped the names of high-powered Congressional leaders like Mr. DeLay
to help persuade the tribes to contribute large sums to Republican organizations like Americans for Tax Reform
[AKA: Grover Norquist
.], as well as to obscure groups like the Capital Athletic Foundation, a Washington group that Mr. Abramoff controlled.
Mr. Campbell said the six tribes - the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw, the Saginaw Chippewa of Michigan, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of California, the Tigua Indians of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo of El Paso and the Pueblo Sandia Tribe of New Mexico, all of which operate or want to operate casinos - paid Mr. Scanlon more than $66 million, with more than $21 million of it going to Mr. Abramoff.
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who is expected to continue hearings when he replaces Mr. Campbell as chairman next year, compared the actions of Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon to those of others who have taken advantage of Indians over generations and said, "What sets this tale apart, what makes it truly extraordinary, is the extent and degree of the apparent exploitation and deceit."
Mr. McCain referred to e-mail messages between the men that he said reflected manipulation of the tribes, including one effort that led to a contribution of $25,000 to a research group controlled by Mr. Scanlon.
Mr. McCain said the group was headed by "two of Mr. Scanlon's beach buddies, one a yoga instructor, the other a lifeguard."
Some messages referred to tribal leaders as "morons," "idiots," "troglodytes," "monkeys" and other derogatory names, Mr. Campbell said.
In his first question to Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Campbell asked, "Why would you want to work for people you have that much contempt for?"
Two tribal leaders followed Mr. Abramoff to the witness table. Richard M. Milanovich, chairman of the Agua Caliente band, and Bernie Sprague, subchief of the Saginaw Chippewa, told the panel that Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon had inserted themselves in tribal elections by currying favor with candidates who later voted to award them contracts. The leaders said they had been powerless to oppose the contracts because the two had secured support from a majority of leaders.
"There is not a word in my language that is strong enough to describe what these people have done to my tribe," Mr. Sprague told the panel.
Posted by bushmeister0
at 3:24 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 1 October 2004 3:25 PM EDT