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Posts Tagged ‘Jack Abramoff’

Huff Post

By- Jason Cherkis

Posted: 08/11/2012  5:58 pm Updated: 08/11/2012  6:02 pm

WASHINGTON — As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has served more than a decade in Congress, President Barack Obama and his allies will surely be scouring his extensive voting record, if they haven’t done so already. But along with key votes, the Democrats have begun to highlight some of the questionable relationships that Ryan has acquired during his time in Washington. Among them, expect to see a re-examination of Ryan’s ties to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The pro-Obama super PAC American Bridge has already unveiled an opposition research book about Ryan that documents the Republican’s ties to those symbols of Washington excess. Information pulled from the book and elsewhere shows that Ryan was an ardent defender of DeLay.

One year before DeLay was indicted on conspiracy and money laundering charges, Ryan called the attacks “gutter politics at its worst,” according to the Washington Post. And added: “You’re going to see a big rallying around Tom.”

For that remark, a columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal wrote that Ryan had “put his head in the sand.” But Ryan only stepped up his defense of DeLay.

Six months before the indictment, Ryan called the investigation and ensuing public outcry over DeLay “an effort to ‘lynch him politically,'” according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Even after a Texas grand jury indicted DeLay on October 3, 2005, Ryan still refused to return $25,000 in donations from the then-former House Majority Leader. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Ryan said he would only return the cash if DeLay was convicted.

Soon thereafter, Ryan, like others in Congress, had to deal with fallout over his ties to Abramoff. In January 2006, the lobbyist pleaded guilty to charges that he committed fraud, tax evasion and engaged in a conspiracy to bribe public officials. Ryan donated close to $2,000 to charity — the amount he received from a PAC for which Abramoff worked and from the lobbyist personally. Ryan said he wanted “to remove any shred of concern,” the Journal Sentinel reported.

A few months later, Ryan began to cut his ties to DeLay. The Capital Times reported in April that Ryan took a $27,500 donation from DeLay’s PAC and donated it to charity. Ryan said that he did so because one of DeLay’s former top aides pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. “I believe it is appropriate to donate these contributions to charity, even though these contributions were perfectly legal and appropriate,” Ryan said in a statement at the time. “I simply want to remove any doubt in this matter.”

A jury convicted DeLay on money laundering charges in November 2010. He was sentenced to three years in prison. He is free pending his appeal.

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Religious Right Has-Beens Try for a Resurrection

By Rob Boston, Church & State Magazine. Posted September 16, 2009.

Will financial and sex scandals sink the hopes of middle-age culture warriors Ralph Reed and Randall Terry? Don’t count them out just yet.

The last few years haven’t been easy ones for Ralph Reed.

The former Christian Coalition executive director and religious right strategist ran for lieutenant governor of Georgia in 2006. Early on, the race looked to be a cakewalk. Political observers predicted Reed would easily win the position, use it as a steppingstone to the governor’s mansion and perhaps bag a Senate seat, or even seek the White House after that.

But Reed hit a serious pothole on his road to victory. His ties to disgraced casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff became an issue, and Georgia Republicans quickly threw Reed under the bus. On Election Day, he lost decisively to State Sen. Casey Cagle 56 percent to 44 percent.

Undeterred, Reed tried to reinvent himself as a novelist. In 2008, he published Dark Horse, a political thriller about an independent candidate seeking the White House. It tanked.

Although Reed worked for the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and helped Arizona GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain raise money in 2008, he has been mostly out of the limelight since stepping down as the head of the Christian Coalition in 1997.

With his political career on the rocks, and his attempt to become a Christian fundamentalist version of John Grisham in shreds, what is Reed to do?

One answer: Get back to basics. Reed recently announced that he is jumping back into the political fray by forming a new religious right group.

Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition will target white evangelical Christians but also reach out to new audiences, including Hispanics, blacks, women and young people.

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Ney’s New Role? Right-Wing Radio Talk Show Host

A second act for our old friend Bob Ney.

Starting today, the former Ohio GOP congressman will be hosting a midday chat show on a right-wing West Virginia radio station, WVLY AM 1370, according to the station’s web site.

In the show, which will air weekdays from 1pm to 3pm and can be heard in the southeastern part of the Buckeye state, Ney will focus on “ethics, earmarks, prison reform and Ohio politics.”

There’s no doubt he’s an expert on those subjects. Ney served 17 months in jail after pleading guilty in 2006 to conspiracy and making false statements in connection to the Jack Abramoff lobbyist scandal.

In fact, Ney also has some experience on the wireless. While in the slammer, he reportedly signed on to work with the liberal Washington DC-based Talk Radio News Service.

And Glenn Thrush at Politico notes that another crooked Republican, G. Gordon Liddy has built a successful career as a radio talker.

So perhaps there’s hope for Ney too.

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Through Obscure Non-Profit, Stanford Wooed Lawmakers

By now, we’ve all seen those pictures of Allen Stanford hobnobbing with lawmakers in Antigua. But, with the exception of one trip by Sen. John Cornyn, it wasn’t Stanford himself who picked up the tab for these jaunts — it was an obscure outfit called the Inter-American Economic Council.

And taking a closer look at the IAEC, and its ties to Stanford, sheds some light on how the Texas billionaire gained access to all those members of Congress — and what he hoped to gain by doing so.

The IAEC’s website says that the Washington-based group was founded in 1999 and that it aims to “provide senior Government Officials, leading Business Executives, and Academic Professionals the opportunity to engage in a dialogue about current and future economic strategies in the Hemisphere.” And in 2003, the Associated Press reported (via Nexis) that, according to IAEC president Barry Featherman, the organization “relies mostly on contributions from U.S. corporations.”

But the group appears to have remarkably close ties to Stanford himself. In this 2006 report, Bloomberg described Stanford as a “principal backer” of the organization. And Stanford Financial told Bloomberg that it had “donated the use of its aircraft” to the IAEC for one 2006 trip to Jamaica that four Democratic lawmakers went on.

That same year, the IAEC gave Stanford its “Excellence in Leadership” award. A press release put out by the group (since removed from its website) declared that Stanford “has strongly supported the work that the IAEC is doing in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Stanford also appears to have taken advantage of IAEC-funded events by showing up personally to schmooze lawmakers. We already posted these shots of current or former lawmakers including Katherine Harris, Pete Sessions, Tom Feeney, James Clyburn, and John Sweeney chilling with Stanford and Caribbean dignitaries in Antigua in 2005.

But there’s also another set of interesting shots from the previous year, showing Stanford breaking bread with, and addressing, lawmakers — including former GOP congressman Bob Ney (since jailed for taking bribes from Jack Abramoff) — at an IAEC-sponsored event in Washington.

(You can see the slideshow of photographs from that event here.)

What was Stanford talking to lawmakers about? An IAEC press release from (via Nexis) from the event gives a hint. It says that in his speech, Stanford “addressed the need to streamline regulatory regimes that make it difficult for investors to take advantage of all of the opportunities that exist in the region.”

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