Investigators squeeze barrels from Jack Abramoff’s bountiful BlackBerry crop
You think you read a lot of e-mail now? Wait till you start wading through Jack Abramoff‘s e-mails that have been uncovered and dumped into the public domain. For lovers of scandals and loathers of the Bush regime, nothing could be sweeter than the harvest from Abramoff’s BlackBerry.
It does leave a certain bitter aftertaste, however. Probably from the bug-spray residue on Tom DeLay as he mucked around in this crop of crap.
Abramoff and DeLay have been riding high for a long time, but if the growing number of indictments, investigations, and lawsuits is equally fruitful, these guys will turn out to have been all thumbs.
Start perusing the documents and stories easily available on indianz.com — the e-mails compiled by Senate investigators are so bountiful that there’s a Part 1 and Part 2 — and you’ll see what I mean.
Indianz.com, a joint effort of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and Noble Savage Media, is a great site, by the way. Just type “abramoff” in its search engine, and you’ll see how this lobbyist who privately refers to Native Americans as “monkeys” used the hell out of them.
Fittingly for a country that’s recently been swamped with human tragedy, there’s a flood of sites desperately trying to keep up with the unfolding scandal.
At any number of them, like Wikipedia‘s page, you’ll see the vast reach of this scandal. And its quirkiness.
For instance, among Wampumgate’s smoking guns are smoking and guns.
Missouri’s Roy Blunt, who supposedly is filling in as House majority leader for the indicted DeLay, is up to his neck in this mess. As CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) notes:
In 2003, Rep. Blunt divorced his wife of 31 years to marry Philip Morris (now Altria) lobbyist Abigail Perlman. Before it was known publicly that Rep. Blunt and Ms. Perlman were dating — and only hours after Rep. Blunt assumed the role of Majority Whip — he tried to secretly insert a provision into Homeland Security legislation that would have benefitted Philip Morris, at the expense of competitors.
In addition, Rep. Blunt’s son Andrew lobbies on behalf of Philip Morris, a major client he picked up only four years out of law school. Notably, Altria is Rep. Blunt’s largest campaign contributor, having donated more than $270,000 to political committees tied to him.
And Blunt and staff are closely tied to Abramoff’s wheeling and dealing with Indian tribes:
In June 2003, Mr. Abramoff persuaded Majority Leader Tom DeLay to organize a letter, co-signed by Speaker [Dennis] Hastert, Whip Roy Blunt, and Deputy Whip Eric Cantor, that endorsed a view of gambling law benefitting Mr. Abramoff’s client, the Louisiana Coushatta, by blocking gambling competition by another tribe. Mr. Abramoff has donated $8,500 to Rep. Blunt’s leadership PAC, Rely on Your Beliefs.
If, as it appears, Rep. Blunt was accepting campaign contributions from Mr. Abramoff in exchange for using his official position so support a view of gambling law that would benefit Mr. Abramoff’s client, he would be in violation of the law.
I know, I know, a pol named Blunt marries a tobacco lobbyist. I don’t care what you smoke. You just can’t make this shit up.
As to the guns, leave aside for the moment that Abramoff’s old College Republican National Committee pals from years ago, future Christian Coalition honcho Ralph Reed and future “tax reformer” Grover Norquist, are intimately linked to Abramoff’s Indian-money schemes. Or that Norquist, who has grown powerful since the 1994 GOP conquest of Congress, is a National Rifle Association honcho — and a member of the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association.
An Abramoff scheme that may not be related to Norquist funneled the tribes’ money to Jack’s friend Shmuel in Israel, who trains Jews to hunt what he calls Arab “rats.” During the constant struggle by Abramoff, a fanatically pro-Israel Orthodox Jew, to make all these money transfers legit, one of the September 2002 e-mails from an Abramoff assistant to Jack relays this request from Shmuel:
He did suggest that he could write some kind of letter with his Sniper Workshop Logo and letterhead. It is an “educational” entity of sorts.
To which Abramoff e-mailed back:
No, don’t do that. I don’t want a sniper letterhead.
Good thinking, Jack.
One of the high concepts of Wampumgate — it’s a shell game, but I’m still open to other names — is that lobbyists like Abramoff got tribes to set up casinos, and then the gamblers (i.e., suckers) from all over America poured money into said casinos, and the tribes sent millions to Abramoff and his crew, who used it to pay not only for the food, golf, and foreign travel of sanctimonious Christians and supposed anti-tax “conservatives” but also for the training of Jewish snipers in Israel.
And I’m not even talking about the heart of the influence-peddling schemes that have enriched artful tax dodgers and changed the face of the current Congress.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 30, 2005