Talk:Jack Abramoff/Abramoff Refactor

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  • Red Scorpion - many more details to add here


    • At least two people who worked on Abramoff's team at Preston Gates wound up with Bush administration jobs: Patrick Pizzella, named an assistant secretary of labor by Bush; and David Safavian, chosen by Bush to oversee federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget. (Safavian has recently been indicted relating to other lobby type problems with Abramoff).
    • By 2001, DeLay has succesfully stopped Murkowski's bill, and the Islands gained at least $2 million more in federal aid from the administration.


In January 2000, Abramoff heard about a business opportunity from a fellow attorney at Preston Gates, Art Dimopoulos. Dimopoulos had a client, Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, who needed to sell his casino business. Boulis was the owner of SunCruz Casinos, a cruise line which offered "cruises to nowhere," which departed from the Florida coast and traveled far enough into international waters to be out of reach of Federal and state gambling laws.

Abramoff told Dimopoulos that he knew buyers who would be interested. They included himself, but ethics rules prohibit the same law firm from representing a buyer and a seller, therefore Abramoff hid his interest in the purchase from his firm.

    • Apparently a friendship between Scanlon and Volz lead to Volz getting Ney to put the comments critical of Boulis in the Cong. Record. [7]
    • Dana Rohrabacher, Tony Rudy (Delay aid) helped him pull off the bank fraud by providing credit references.
    • Also, wife of Tony Rudy was hired at $50K/month for 10 months, as alleged in the plea agreement (need more info from there to add to Abramoff, Delay, etc.)
    • Delay may have helped out by giving Boulis a flag which had flown over Capitol, and one of Abramoff's financiers for the purchase came to a skybox fundraiser for Delay.
    • JA was funding his negotiations in part by pulling cash from his lobbying clients - see page 44 of exhibitspart1.pdf
    • good timeline for SunCruz
    • In 2000, an aide to Ney (Volz?) traveled to CNMI, effectively to lobby to make sure CNMI gave Preston Gates their lobbying contract (lost in 1998) [8]
    • good link on potential Ney involvement
    • Ney helped out with comments in the congressional record, by admonishing the previous owner (Boulis) and praising the purchase.
    • We need to put the full details on Boulis's murder at the Suncruz article, not here. Abramoff has not yet been implicated in the murder, only his associate Adam Kidan.
  • Scanlon Notes
    • March 2000 - Scanlon leaves job as Tom DeLay's press relations aide to work for law firms as PR specialist. according to Scanlon plea-bargain, Abramoff was instrumental in getting this new job.
    • Scanlon works together with Abramoff on SunCruz purchase; is an interface with Ney (how?)
    • Does Abramoff/Scanlon relationship start with lobbying in DeLay's office and then SunCruz? Did they hatch the tribal scam plots in 2000?
    • Interesting topic: Scanlon got busted when ex-fiancee found he was cheating, and told the FBI about his business... we found out about Abramoff, Scanlon, and the whole mess all because Scanlon was sleeping with his manicurist[9]

Abramoff had been a registered lobbyist for the Mississippi Choctaw since 1995.

  • 1995-2003 - MS Choctaw' [1] - need better, less biased source
    • Abramoff's first Indian client, MS Choctaw, opposes gambling regulation
    • They contribute to lobbying against IGPA
    • Roy Blunt - Abramoff donates $5000 to Blunt's PAC 6/1/1999, $1500 to PAC in 2000,
    • Blunt and Delay host RNC event sponsored by MS Choctaw in 8/2000
    • MS Choctaw opposes recognition of Jena Choctaw
    • 9/20/2000 - Blunt and other reps order GAO study on tribal recognition, ask 6 month moratorium on tribal recognition.
    • 2/7/02 - GAO report comes out
    • 3/5/02 - Blunt writes DOI, cites GAO report, concerned about Jena Choctaw
    • 3/18/03 - Abramoff gives more (how much?) to Blunt's PAC
    • 5/21/03 - Blunt sends letter to Norton on gaming and Jena
    • 6/10/03 - Blunt signs onto DeLay, Hastert, Cantor letter
  • 2001-2006 - He lobbied Congress and the administration on behalf of Native American tribes, some of which he has plead guilty to defrauding.
    • TribeScam general - it appears that JA's 'pattern' of conduct with respect to the tribes was:
      • Abramoff/Scanlon approached certain individuals in the tribal hierarchy who were particularly interested in promoting the tribe's casino/gambling interests
      • Scanlon did campaign work to get their own 'slate' of candidates on the tribal council (numerous references in emails to "Our slate")
        • Scanlon's consultancy, also other local PR firms were used in these campaigns to hide connection to Abramoff
      • once 'the slate' was in place, Abramoff would sell numerous lobbying ventures based on exploiting fears of 'threats'. (see David Sickey letter at below link)
    • Abramoff TribeScam outline:
      • Around 2001, JA went in search of a lobbying client who was naive and had a lot of money to spend.
      • Abramoff found the LA Coushattas, whose casino was in debt. ($30mil)
      • Abramoff gained the Coushattas trust, Coushatta needed help with LA people who wanted to shut them down.
      • Some of the Coushatta expressed doubts against trusting JA, JA exploited the intra-tribal (and inter-tribal) politics to discredit 'dissidents'. Excellent perspective from the tribe[2].
      • In October 2001, JA convinced the Coushatta that TX legislature was going to allow indian gambling. Exploited tribal fears of Tigua and AL Coushatta casinos in Texas, stealing their revenue from gamblers commuting from TX.
        • This was the initial 'Phantom Menace' pitch to get the Coushatta to dish out $3.5mil in the first six months, to lobby against something which wasn't going to happen anyways.
      • Jena #1-In January 2002, Jena Choctaw submitted compact to get approval for a casino (in LA). [3]
        • Abramoff had Reed and Dobson do the first 'anti-gambling' crusade, resulting in first Jena shutdown. (Reed got $4mil altogether)
        • Abramoff funneled cash to Federal level (Dept. of Interior, indirectly through CREA ($225K), Gale Norton's former PAC, now run by Italia Federici to get access to Griles and Norton in Interior) and cash to Senators and Representatives to write letters to Interior to stop Jena.
        • Abramoff was on first-name basis with Griles, Griles arranged meetings between Coushatta and MS Choctaw chiefs (MS Choctaw also an Abramoff client, also opposed Jena) and Norton. Meetings occurred at CREA functions as well as officially, at Interior.
        • Vitter wrote letters to Interior, got 26 other house members to sign. Reed promoted Vitter in postcard campaign, who later won LA Senate race.
        • Senators Breaux, Lott, Cochran send letters to Interior.
        • March 6 - After all the letters have been written, Coushatta cut the checks to 61 members of Congress. Also, one check on the list makes the CREA->Norton link implicit: "Council for Republican Advocacy (Norton)."
        • March 7 - DoI rejects Jena compact.
      • Jena #2
        • After rejection, Jena hired their own lobbyists (Patton-Boggs) and tried again, this time with tacit support of Billy Tauzin and Breaux.
        • March 2002 - LA Rep. McCrery's chief of staff, Bob Brooks (who later went on a Scotland golf trip with Abramoff) writes up legislation to block Jena.
        • June 2002 - Strongly worded, Abramoff-written letter to Norton opposing Jena is signed and sent by Delay, Hastert, and Blunt.
        • more cash to CREA to get influence with Interior. Also, cash to CREA from Saginaw Chippewa (Michigan tribe? Why was this?)
        • Griles tries hard to influence Norton within Interior. He is challenged by Michael Rosetti, Counsel at Interior, 'who did not want Norton's decision process on the Jenas influenced by "outside people".'
        • Vitter tries to urge Interior to block Jena via language in Appropriations report.
        • December 2002 - Norton eventually allows Jena compact, but the tribe ultimately gets shot down by LA gov. Kathleen Babineaux-Blanco, who does not want any expansion of gambling.
      • Tigua & AL Coushatta
        • Jan 2001 - Abramoff and Scanlon discuss ways to use TX legislature to shut down Tigua.
        • Abramoff funneled cash to Cornyn, cash to Reed, Dobson, Christian Coalition to defeat Tigua in TX. Funneled cash through bogus American International Center, Delaware shell corp, as well as through Grover Norquist orgs. Abramoff used Reed as cover, Reed went on 'anti-gambling' crusade, brought in numerous pastors and evangelical sources to lobby and 'propagandize'. Abramoff hid the fact that he was behind the Tigua defeat.
          • Cornyn started fighting Tigua casino (Speaking Rock Casino in El Paso) as Atty Gen'l in 1999.
          • Case for Tigua shutdown was based on a reading of the 1987 law which recognized the Tigua and AL Coushatta, which was considered vague [4].
          • Note: The statute was vague because although it prohibited the tribe from "All gaming activities which are prohibited by the laws of the State of Texas", but TX did have a state lottery (therefore not prohibited), enabling the Tigua to fit casino gambling through a loophole by calling it a form of "lottery" [5].
        • 11/30/2001 - JA and Reed discuss an event where pastors will deliver a letter to Cornyn (AG) demanding that Tigua be shutdown. Reed discusses "choreographing" Cornyn's response.
        • 11/2001 - Abramoff and Scanlon discuss ways to keep AL Coushatta from opening a casino to threaten LA Coushatta business. Discuss having officials threaten the chief with jail.
          • late 11/2001 - MS Choctaw send $1,000 to Delay's TRMPAC.
        • 12/11/2001 - Delay, Pete Sessions, John Culberson and Kevin Brady write letter to Ashcroft, Norton, District Attorney, Gov. Perry asking that AL Coushatta casino be shut down. "We feel that the Department of Justice needs to step in and investigate the inappropriate and illegal actions by the tribe, its financial backers, if any, and the casino equipment vendors." [6]
          • 3 months later, tribal clients (who?) send $6,500 to Pete Sessions PAC
        • February 2002 - Abramoff knows through Reed that the Tigua casino is about to get shut down by Cornyn. Abramoff and Scanlon make a move to take on Tigua as clients.
        • Abramoff and Scanlon soak the Tigua (who historically donated to Democrats) for vastly inflated rates, because Abramoff looks like an extremely powerful lobbyist (by what he has been able to do for the Coushatta and others) and because he is the Tigua's last hope.
        • JA sells the Tigua on a massive, national political campaign. He is basically charging them enough for a presidential campaign. The actual work described in this campaign is not really ever started.
          • Scanlon's "Operation: Open Doors". Abramoff is working for free ('pro-bono'), Scanlon is getting paid millions and splitting behind the scenes with JA ("gimme five")
        • Abramoff starts shipping out Tigua cash to Delay, ARMPAC, Blount, Ney. Big payoff to Ney. This is to get a clause put into the Help America Vote Act to 'save' the Tigua from Cornyn. (by amending [7]) Delay, Blount, Ney, will use their power to make sure the amendment doesn't get debated too much. Dem. Sen Chris Dodd is allegedly supposed to help the bill pass the Senate. Per Dodd, someone from DNC (Democratic National Committee) and 2 Ney staffers approach Dodd, but he will not help. Abramoff emails Scanlon - "get our money back from that mother fucker who was supposed to take care of dodd" (Interesting fact to research here - Ney staffers went to Dodd because they were wondering whether the amendment (which Ney supported in the House) was going to pass the Senate. Ney claims he realizes he was 'duped' by Abramoff when he found out that Dodd was not going to support it. Who was the person from the DNC? was this the person Abramoff/Scanlon paid to try to coerce Dodd?)
          • April 04 2002 - John Robinson from DNC faxes Scanlon a "position statement" on DNC letterhead supporting Tigua's right to casino
          • Here's the answer [10] [11] [12]
          • Scanlon paid Brian Lunde (formerly of DNC) who paid Lottie Shackelford (at the time vice-chair of DNC) to lobby Dodd. $50,000 to Lunde, $10,000 to Shackelford.
          • This was a marginally illegal sub-rosa lobbying operation as Shackelford was not a registered lobbyist on this issue.
          • Dodd turned down Shackelford flatly
          • Abramoff/Scanlon had to get a Democrat (Dodd) on-board because the Senate was a Democratic majority at the time, due to the Jim Jeffords 'flip'. It's also possible that Dodd was on the appropriate committee for 'reconciliation' of the bill amendments.
        • March 2002 - According to indictment, Ney agrees to help Tigua.
        • The bill will not pass, but nobody tells the Tigua. Abramoff asks Tigua to pay for Ney's scotland golf trip. (w/Safavian, Reed, Abramoff) Tigua will not pay, but they convince AL Coushatta to pay $50,000 to Capital Athletic Foundation, as it will help AL Coushatta also.
        • June 2002 - Ben Nighthorse Campbell holds SIAC hearing on conflict between TX and Tigua/AL Coushatta: "I guess I'm just trying to figure out what Texas is complaining about.", says Campbell
        • June 2002 - According to indictment, Abramoff asks Ney and Ney agrees "to introduce and seek passage of legislation that would lift an existing federal ban against commercial gaming for another Native American Tribe in Texas." - AL Coushatta
        • June 2002 - District Court rules AL-C casino must shut down within 30 days.
        • July 24 2002 - Abramoff cashes CAF check from AL-C, same day their casino closes.
        • March 26, 2003 - in a last ditch effort to get the last drop of blood out of the Tigua, Abramoff suggests a "Tribal Legacy Financing Program". Life insurance policies are written on tribal elders > 75 years old. Premiums are paid by Eshkol Academy, Eshkol is also beneficiary. This is suggested as a way for Tigua to pay for lobbying fees to reopen their casino (because they are flat broke without a casino). By July 30, the Elder's rejected the plan, and started getting wary of Abramoff (they found out about his other tribal clients)
        • July 25, 2003 - AMAZINGLY, Abramoff writes Reed suggesting a 'Black Church Elder' program similar to the Tribal Legacy financing program.
        • Tigua get hosed, complain ... eventually this all gets investigated by SIAC
    • Above details are on LA Coushatta and Tigua scams. Need details on JA's other tribal clients - Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, Pueblo of Sandia, Pueblo of Santa Clara.
    • He committed income tax fraud in the amount of millions of dollars in perpetrating that fraud.
    • He admitted to bribing "Representative #1" (Ney)
    • However, much of this detail belongs on the Jack Abramoff lobbying and corruption scandal article
    • Need to get down to brass tacks on what money was given and who wrote letters/did favors - the 'quid-pro-quo'. The fact is that both Republicans and Democrats did write letters or otherwise use influence on behalf of Abramoff's tribal clients. - this should go to the scandal article
  • 2003 - He was paid by Tyco to carry out an 'astroturf' grass-roots lobbying campaign (while at Greenberg Traurig), but allegedly defrauded Tyco (money paid, but work not done)

Things which are less significant/belong in an "Other" section:

  • The "Red Scorpion" movie (but note the IFF connection).
  • The "Channel One News" lobbying.
  • Connection to Malaysia.
  • Homeland Security contract? (I hadn't heard about this, not sure how significant it is)

Things which belong in an "Other investigations" section:

  • 2002 - Connection to Guam.

Footnotes[edit]