Friday, March 31, 2006

The House Of Representatives That Jack Built

These are the men
That fleeced the tribes
That paid the money
That made the bribes
That purchased the Congress that
Jack built.
Jack's House, a New York Times Op-Ed by Hart Seely.


Spysmasher said...

Democrats Also Got Tribal Donations

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff and an associate famously collected $82 million in lobbying and public relations fees from six Indian tribes and devoted a lot of their time to trying to persuade Republican lawmakers to act on their clients' behalf.

But Abramoff didn't work just with Republicans. He oversaw a team of two dozen lobbyists at the law firm Greenberg Traurig that included many Democrats. Moreover, the campaign contributions that Abramoff directed from the tribes went to Democratic as well as Republican legislators.

Among the biggest beneficiaries were Capitol Hill's most powerful Democrats, including Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) and Harry M. Reid (Nev.), the top two Senate Democrats at the time, Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.), then-leader of the House Democrats, and the two lawmakers in charge of raising funds for their Democratic colleagues in both chambers, according to a Washington Post study. Reid succeeded Daschle as Democratic leader after Daschle lost his Senate seat last November.

Democrats are hoping to gain political advantage from federal and Senate investigations of Abramoff's activities and from the embattled lobbyist's former ties to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). Yet, many Democratic lawmakers also benefited from Abramoff's political operation, a fact that could hinder the Democrats' efforts to turn the lobbyist's troubles into a winning partisan issue.

"It wouldn't surprise me to see the Abramoff controversy impact both parties," said Tony Raymond, co-founder of, which gathers lobbying and campaign finance information.

Democratic lawmakers who responded to inquiries for this article said that any money they received from the tribes had nothing to do with Abramoff. They were quick to say they did not know the man.

Federal investigators are examining the millions of dollars in lobbying and public relations fees that Abramoff received from the tribes. They are also looking into his dealings with members of Congress and their staffs, lawyers involved in the inquiry said.

Most lobbying firms here are bipartisan, to give their clients access to key lawmakers of both major parties. Abramoff's group was no exception. Although he was recognized as a Republican lobbyist who was close to DeLay and other party leaders, Abramoff was careful to add at least two Democratic lobbyists to his group during his five years at Greenberg Traurig. By the end, seven of his lobbyists were Democrats.

"Lobbying shops typically direct contributions to both parties because they want contacts on both sides of the aisle," said David M. Hart, a professor of public policy at George Mason University. "Lawmakers in the minority can also have a lot of clout."

According to documents and tribal officials familiar with the Abramoff team's methods, the lobbyists devised lengthy lists of lawmakers to whom the tribes should donate and then delivered the lists to the tribes. The tribes, in turn, wrote checks to the recommended campaign committees and in the amounts the lobbyists prescribed. The money went to incumbents or selected candidates in open seats.

Because of the makeup of his team and the composition of Congress, the Abramoff lobbyists channeled most of their clients' giving to GOP legislators, according to a review of public records. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), chairman of an Appropriations subcommittee that frequently deals with Indian matters, received the largest amount from the tribes as well as from the Greenberg Traurig lobbyists who helped direct those donations: $141,590 from 1999 to 2004, the study showed.

But Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) ran second, with $128,000 in the same period. From 1999 to 2001, Kennedy chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which solicited campaign donations for House candidates.

The Indians' largess flowed to higher-ranking Democrats as well. Senate Democratic leaders Reid and Daschle each received more than $40,000 from the tribes and from lobbyists on Abramoff's team during the period. Gephardt got $32,500.

Of the 18 largest recipients of tribe contributions directed by Abramoff's group, six, or one-third, were Democrats. These included Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), who chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2001 to 2002, and Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.), a leader in Indian affairs legislation.

Over that period, while Abramoff and his lobbyists directed nearly $4 million in funds from the tribes to lawmakers, they also gave from their own pockets. Two-thirds of the total went to Republicans and one-third was handed out to Democrats, according to The Post's calculations.

The six wealthiest tribes that had hired Abramoff's group were the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana and the Tigua Indian Reservation.

Greenberg Traurig declined to comment. An Abramoff spokesman said: "Each tribe has its own protocol for approving political contributions made by the tribe. Mr. Abramoff and his team provided recommendations on where a tribe should spend its political dollars, but ultimately the tribal council made the final decision on what political contributions to make."

Democratic lawmakers sought to distance themselves from Abramoff.

A spokesman for Kennedy said the congressman's donations from the tribes "have nothing to do with Abramoff." Kennedy traces the money's genesis to his family's long-standing commitment to Indian causes, to the fact that he co-founded the Congressional Native American Caucus in 1997, and to his personal relationship with Mississippi Choctaw Chief Philip Martin, whom Kennedy met in 1999 on a fundraising trip for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "They just became close friends," said Kennedy spokesman Sean Richardson.

James Patrick Manley, Reid's spokesman, also asserted that Reid's connection to tribes was remote from Abramoff. He said that Reid does not know Abramoff. But Abramoff did hire as one of his lobbyists Edward P. Ayoob, a veteran Reid legislative aide. Manley acknowledged that Ayoob helped raise campaign money for his former boss. Lawyers close to the Abramoff operation said that Ayoob held a fundraising reception for Reid at Greenberg Traurig's offices here.

"There's nothing sinister here," Manley said. Reid is a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee with strong relations with Indian tribes, he explained.

Daschle was familiar with another of Abramoff's Democratic lobbyists, Michael Smith. According to Steve Hildebrand, who was Daschle's campaign manager last year, Smith "helped with a lot of Democratic campaigns." In addition, Daschle was a favorite of Indian tribes and received donations from 64, including five Abramoff clients. "We took about $150,000 in this last election cycle from Indian tribes around the country," Hildebrand said. "Tom is viewed as a champion of Indian issues. We have nine tribes in South Dakota, and they worked hard for him."

Murray also was said to have never laid eyes on Abramoff. "Our office has not had any contact with Jack Abramoff," said the senator's spokeswoman, Alex Glass. "She's been active in Indian health care and in supporting their sovereign governments; that is why they decided to contribute to her. They see her as an advocate."

During the time Murray chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Abramoff's major tribes were significant contributors. Election reports show that the grand total from the tribes to that committee in 2001-2002 reached $175,500.

In March 2001, Dorgan held a fundraising event during a hockey game in a skybox leased by an Abramoff company at MCI Center. But the senator said he believed that the box was controlled by Greenberg Traurig. The event was organized by Smith, the Democratic fundraiser, he added.

"I was unaware that Abramoff was involved," Dorgan said.

El Duque said...

News rehasher
Acts right wing
Doesn't write a thing.

Blind Robin said...

talking points puker
trolls the halls of the house SUPERFRANKENSTEIN built

With apology to Mr. El Duque and Mr. Seely

Spysmasher said...

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You ignored what I posted,
So I'll ignore YOU!

El Duque said...


You write it,
We'll read it.
Your pasting?
Don't need it.

Superfrankenstein said...

Hey, spysmasher, Hoosier X got you good.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Cutting and pasting

Hoosier X said...

It ain't hard, Superfrankenstein.

I mean, these people have no honor, no decency, no honesty, no consistency, and no common sense.

What do we hear from these people non-stop?

Liberal Media (TM)!

Liberal Media (TM)!

Liberal Media (TM)!

So where does he go for a story about bad things the Democrats did?

The Washington Post

Er, uh, isn't that The Liberal Media (TM) ? I guess it's NOT all lies if they publish something tou agree with.

By the way, I wrote this post myself. Is that allowed?

Spysmasher said...

Two new ways to slam Spysmasher:

(1) Delcare that all "cut and paste" ideas are non-ideas, then ignore them!

(2) Declare that someone I, you never met, and know very little about, have "no honor, no decency, no honesty, no consistency, and no common sense."

Dude, have you never seen Jerry Springer?



Thought for the day: Spysmasher Rules!

el duque said...


You come to a website, paste long articles into the comments section, then throw tantrums when people don't agree.

We know you better than you think.

Hoosier X said...

Spy Smasher,

Is it OK if I make comments based on your dishonest and whiny behaviour on this site? Because that is exactly what I'm doing.

"No honor, no decency, no honesty, no consistency, and no common sense."

Conservatives judge liberals based on things that other conservatives say about liberals. I'm commenting on your behaviour based on this site.

And I have absolutely no interest in responding to every little conservative lie that you repeat here. If you were the least bit interested in the truth, there are many places you could go for information. (Superfrankenstein provides many links.) Instead, you choose to infest a humor site. How very like a conservative to expect other people to do the work for you.

No honor, no decency, no ... I already said that.

But stick around. You never fail to confirm my worst expectations of conservative behavior. I don't know what I would do if a conservative ever showed up with arguments that were relevant, intelligent and respectful. A conservative who was more interested in dialogue than in silly games.

I haven't encountered one yet.

I will pray for you, spysmasher. And I forgive you. Please get the help you need.

Jim Chadwick said...

Here's another great tactic in logic which the whiny Spysmasher and his ilk use as well. "Democrats took Abramoff donations too!Therefore, you can no longer say bad things about Bush!" That's it, that's supposed to be the extent of the argument. Then it's on to the O'Reilly/Fox news approach. Just keep berating and shouting at your opponent until he admits you are right.

But find me a liberal who didn't know that some Democrats took Abramoff contributions as well already. Yeah, they did and it sucks. But as in all thing of this nature, the Republicans did it bigger and better and there's the difference. This is the problem with the Bushies. (And I don't say conservatives, becuase true, fiscal conservatives have run out of patience themselves with the "don't tax but spend" Bush.) They will never, ever, EVER admit their guy did anything wrong, but want you to admit your guy did. They sit around in their Spysmasher fantasy world of black and white values, convinced that all liberals are united behind Hilary Clinton and that we all thought her husband was a saint. In reality, we are capable of seeing the flaws of liberal Democrats; you guys think the guys on your side are like the Pope: incapable of being fallible. We are capable of understanding that in a corrupt system, one must often make lesser of two evil choices, which doesn't mean we think the people we support are free of all flaws. But in your reality, the President and his cronies are right, all the time, everytime and to criticize them is somehow treasonous.

And how about answering the question Spysmasher? If the Washington Post is part of the corrupt, liberal, mainstream media than (a)what does it say that they are writing an article critical of democrats and (b)you are using them as a source?

Superfrankenstein said...

These people are eating your lunch, spysmasher.

If I were you I'd write something original, calm, entertaining and carefully argued.

And I'd do it in a hurry.

The Retropolitan said...

I vote for a post about actually smashing spies. That would be neat.

SpySmasher said...

"These people are eating your lunch, spysmasher."


Tom, you are finally beginning to understand the main principal of the Democratic Party. I am making progress here after all!

Hoosier X said...

It was a very nice lunch, that's for sure. Peanut butter sandwich, apple, chocolate Jell-o pudding. I would like to thank Spice-Masher's Mom for putting it together so nicely.

I feel kind of bad for picking on Spice-Masher. From now on, I will try to be more politically correct and consider Spice-Masher's feelings.

spysmasher said...

Hoser X said: "From now on, I will try to be more politically correct."

Ha! Sorry, but that's simply not possible. You're as "politically correct" as they come right NOW.

Anonymous said...

Hey libs, they say insanity is a disease, why don't you all go get treated.