Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Take Them to the Cleaners

An aide to Tom DeLay had a hand in ditching contributions from an Indian tribe so that it would not appear that they were sending the money directly to the House Majority Leader’s PAC. From Raw Story:

A casino-rich tribe wrote checks for at least $55,000 to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s political groups, but the donations were never publicly disclosed and the tribe was directed to divert the money to other groups that helped Republicans, tribal documents show.

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, now under criminal investigation, told the Coushatta Indian tribe, a client, to cancel its checks to the DeLay groups in 2001 and 2002 and route the money to more obscure groups that helped Republicans on Medicare prescription drug legislation and Christian voter outreach.

DeLay’s Texans for a Republican Majority and Americans for a Republican Majority never reported receiving any checks from the Louisiana tribe to federal or state regulators, their reports show. The donations, however, are recorded in memos and ledgers kept by the tribe.

[…]

People familiar with Abramoff’s transactions with the Coushattas, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of ongoing grand jury and Senate probes, said Abramoff re-directed the checks at the request of one of DeLay’s assistants.

The aide asked Abramoff to get the checks changed, expressing concern that donations from tribal casinos shouldn’t appear on the rolls of DeLay’s conservative political groups, the sources told the AP.

[…]

Tribal leaders who watched $32 million of their casino profits go to Abramoff’s lobbying efforts now question why money they intended to benefit DeLay causes was often disguised or routed elsewhere.

“There’s a pattern of trying to keep high profile entities out of the picture,” Coushatta council member David Sickey said. “To me it tells me there’s some effort at concealment.”

There’s a very simple reason for that, Mr. Sickey. You were being ripped off.