Jack Abramoff

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Jack A. Abramoff, a long-time Washington insider, has been a Republican lobbyist and fundraiser and was a Bush Pioneer. According to the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) web site, he was Senior Director of Government Affairs for the Greenberg Traurig law and lobbying firm from January 2001 to March 2004, and was CRNC National Chairman from 1981-85. He is also a Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research think tank.

Contents

Quotes

  • "Can you smell money?!?!?!" Jack Abramoff wrote. --Quoted May 1, 2005, New York Times. [1]
  • "This is really high on the priority list of tribal concerns. ... This is a cash cow in many circumstances, and tribes are concerned about protection of tribal assets." [2]

Exemplfying the "political decadence of late-stage conservatism"

"Well-connected Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff came into the news lately when it turned out he had collected more than $9 million in fees from various Indian tribes during the past two years, although tribal interests faced little political opposition at that time. (He was dumped by his firm, Greenberg Traurig, which cited 'personal transactions and related conduct which are unacceptable to the firm.' Abramoff responded with a statement noting that Washington lobbying 'is different from other areas in the practice of law.' Indeed.) But while Abramoff is far from Washington's first corrupt lobbyist, he's among a troika of right-wing operatives who exemplify a more recent trend: the political decadence of late-stage conservatism." Source: Washington Monthly, April 2004.

Master of Sleaze

"Only a genius like Abramoff could make money lobbying against an Indian tribe's casino and then turn around and make money defending that tribe against himself. Only a giant like Abramoff would have the guts to use one tribe's casino money to finance a Focus on the Family crusade against gambling in order to shut down a rival tribe's casino.

"Only an artist like Abramoff could suggest to a tribe that it pay him by taking out life insurance policies on its eldest members. Then when the elders dropped off they could funnel the insurance money through a private school and into his pockets.

"This is sleaze of a high order. And yet according to reports in The Washington Post and elsewhere, Abramoff accomplished it all," wrote David Brooks in the March 22, 2005, New York Times. [3]

Ongoing investigations

Abramoff, Kidan, Moscatiello, Ferrari, Fiorillo: The 2001 Murder of Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis

"Three men have been arrested in the 2001 ambush slaying of Miami businessman Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis - a murder that happened a few months after he sold a fleet of casino boats to prominent Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a partner." [4]

On September 27, 2005, Florida police arrested Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari and James "Pudgy" Fiorillo for their involvement in the Mafia-style murder of "Gus" Bouilis. Moscatiello is a known member of the Gambino crime family and turned up in wire taps of John Gotti in the '80s. Abramoff and Kidan paid Moscatiello and his daughter $145,000 for catering and other work shortly before the murder. [5] Ft. Lauderdale police Sgt. Tim Bronson said additional arrests were possible in the case.

Abramoff, Scanlon, Ney, Reed, Safavian-2002 Paid Trip to Scotland

"David Safavian was arrested Monday [September 19, 2005] and charged with making false statements and obstructing a federal investigation relating to a 2002 golf outing to Scotland with Abramoff, former Christian Coalition executive Ralph Reed, Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio, and others."
"Safavian, a former Abramoff lobbying associate, abruptly resigned last week as the Bush administration's top procurement official, three days before his arrest." [6]

Regarding Abramoff's confessed reason for inviting Safavian:

"When a colleague asked in an e-mail why Mr. Safavian had been invited -- 'I like him but didn't know u did as much. Business angle?' -- Mr. Abramoff didn't mince words. 'Total business angle,' he e-mailed back. 'He is new COS of GSA.'" [7]

Abramoff made a plea agreement with Federal prosecutors on January 3, 2006.

Abramoff-Kidan: fraud and conspiracy

"Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a business partner were indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday [August 11, 2005], charged with five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy in their purchase of a fleet of Florida gambling boats from a businessman who was later killed in a gangland-style hit.
"Abramoff, 46, was arrested in Los Angeles in the late afternoon and was expected to be taken before a U.S. magistrate there on Friday. He was indicted along with Adam Kidan, the former owner of the Dial-a-Mattress franchise in Washington. Kidan, 41, of New York City, will surrender to the FBI here by Friday morning, his attorney, Martin I. Jaffe, said in a written statement. [8]

Abramoff-J. Steven Griles: conflict-of-interest

"Then-Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles promised in 2002 to block an Indian casino that would complete with one operated by clients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to e-mail sent by Abramoff nearly three years ago. The lobbyist later told colleagues he was trying to arrange for his law firm to hire Griles. Federal investigators are looking into the potential conflict-of-interest between Griles and Abramoff." [Feds investigating Abramoff over casino dealings. Greenwire. 6 September, 2005.] Griles later plead guilty to obstruction of justice.

Committee on Indian Affairs

The following comes from a September 29, 2004, press release posted by the Committee on Indian Affairs. [9]

"After seven months of investigating charges of Indian tribes being victimized by high-profile lobbyists, today Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell presided over a hearing of the Indian Affairs Committee and received testimony that Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, and the corporations they owned, had walked away with nearly seventy million dollars in fees for what can only be described as less than honorable dealings.
"'I am horrified by what I believe these men and their accomplices pulled off to the detriment of the tribes and their members. By manipulating tribal elections and installing people favorable to their greedy ends, they engineered a situation and enriched themselves --- all the while holding these same Indian people in incredibly low regard.' Said Campbell.
"The low regard in which these men held their Indian clients was clearly evidenced by emails, entered into the hearing record today by Senator Campbell. 'They called them monkeys, mofos, morons and idiots, and even worse!' Said Campbell. 'I could not believe this until I had actually seen the emails. And this from the man who called racist the Washington Post reporter that broke the story on his fraudulent activities.'"

Capital Athletic Foundation

Sloan's information was taken from R. Jeffrey Smith's September 28, 2004, Washington Post article "Foundation's Funds Diverted From Mission. Records Detail Spending By GOP Lobbyist Abramoff."
  • In 2001, CAF received $1 million from the Coushatta and $177,415 from Foxcom.
  • The Coushatta apparently believed that the donation was for a sky box from which Abramoff would lobby Members of Congress during Redskins games.
  • In 2002, CAF collected $2.56 million from 9 donors including 3 tribes.
  • In 2003, CAF collected $2.15 million from tribes, Mike Scanlon and an internet casino client of Abramoff’s. $2.13 million of the money went to the Eshkol Academy, a school started [in 2001] by Abramoff. (See below.)
  • In a February 2003 email, Abramoff told Scanlon to make sure that his share of money went to Eshkol directly – 'using school as conduit for some of our activities . .. If that won’t fly with them, use CAF.'
  • CAF also paid $120,000 in August 2002 for Abramoff, Ney [Rep. R-OH], Ralph Reed and then-General Services Administration Chief of Staff David Safavian to St. Andrews to play golf with a stop in London on way back. Ney later claimed that the trip’s purpose was to raise money for a foundation, but there were no fundraising events during the course of the trip."
  • On April 17, 2005, Tax Analysts reported that in a March 16, 2005, letter, Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking minority member Max Baucus (D-MT) had "asked lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his wife, Pamela, for various financial and organizational data regarding the Capital Athletic Foundation (CAF), a charity the Abramoffs founded," and "requested information about three other organizations Abramoff has had ties to: Eshkol Inc., the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), and Kaygold LLC, a consulting service owned by Abramoff. (For the Finance Committee letter, see Doc 2005-5551.)"
"The committee opened the investigation following allegations that Abramoff used NCPPR and CAF to pay for overseas trips for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and other Republican lawmakers and that he attempted to influence lawmakers with large donations from various American Indian tribes." [11][12]
  • "The committee had asked Abramoff to provide a list of the foundation’s employees and their compensation packages, an accounting of the travel and conferences attended by the foundation’s employees, and details of the foundation’s investments, among other information."
As of April 20, 2005, The Hill reported that Abramoff had not been "responsive" to the Committee's request that the documents be provided by April 15, 2005. [13]

Channel One

Channel One is the "in-school marketing company, which compels 8 million kids [grades six through twelve] to watch two minutes of ads each schoolday." Commercial Alert reported February 13, 2005, that Channel One has "big troubles."

  • First of all, its president, Jim Ritts, quit.
  • Secondly, "Jack Abramoff. Channel One's main Washington lobbyist, has quit, and is now under investigation by a federal grand jury, according to the Washington Post. This is very bad for Channel One, because it desperately needs political influence to keep its contracts with the federal government." [14]

Republican Activism

College Republicans

  • "Abramoff got his start in politics while at Brandeis, chairing the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans from 1980-1981. Teaming with Harvard contemporary and lifelong fellow traveler Grover Norquist, Abramoff's organizational acumen allegedly won Massachusetts for Reagan." [15]
  • "'The College Republicans have been credited with Ronald Reagan's paperslim victory in Massachusetts' in 1980 as well. As head of the Massachusetts Federation of College Republican Clubs, Jack Abramoff (elected National Chairman in 1981) produced over 10,000 youth votes." [16]
  • Abramoff next served as National Chairman of the College Republican National Committee 1981-1985. [17]

United Students of America Foundation

"While working for the College Republicans, [Abramoff] and Norquist set up the United Students of America Foundation, a 501(c)3 'dedicated to educating students on the need to defund political activism on campus' that funneled money to conservative causes." [18]

In October of 1984, Abramoff organized Student Liberation Day Coalition to honor the anniversary of the US's invasion of Grenada. Critics blasted the event, sponsored by the United Students of America Foundation for its partisan stance. Abramoff denied the allegations, "It's not really a partisan thing or a campaign thing. We don't do stuff to promote the Republican cause in any way."

But, a letter written by Abramoff on the College Republicans' stationary read: "While the Student Liberation Day Coalition is nonpartisan and intended only for educational purposes, I don't need to tell you how important this project is to our efforts as CRs College Republicans . I am confident that an impartial study of the contrasts between the Carter/Mondale failure in Iran and the Reagan victory in Grenada will be most enlightening to voters 12 days before the general election." Source: Kurtz, Howard and Babcock, Charles. "Two 'Nonpartisan' Foundations Push Grenada Rallies." Washington Post. 4 October 1984. A1.

Connecting with the Heritage Foundation

"Abramoff assumed the chair of the USA foundation in 1984. He became a member of the Council for National Policy in 1984. He founded the International Freedom Foundation in 1985. He became executive director of the Reagan aligned organization Citizens for America in 1985. All of these are Heritage Foundation aligned organizations." [19][20]

Biographical Profile

Greenberg Traurig Biography

  • An archive of Abramoff's biography from the Greenberg Traurig website describes him as follows:
Jack Abramoff's practice focuses on building legislative coalitions, grassroots organizing and Washington, DC based lobbying efforts. Jack is considered a top issues strategist. He has been consistently named as one of the nation's most powerful and effective lobbyists in rankings by publications including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, National Journal, Roll Call and Washingtonian Magazine. Jack is directly involved in the Republican party and conservative movement leadership structures and is one of the leading fund raisers for the party and its congressional candidates. He is a former executive director of President Ronald Reagan's grassroots lobbying organization, Citizens For America, where he directed and crafted lobbying efforts on a broad range of issues. Jack also had a direct role in shaping the agenda of the second Reagan presidential term, which, in its later applications, ultimately brought the Republican Party to control of Congress in 1994.
"Before this position, Jack was twice elected Chairman of the College Republican National Committee beginning in 1981. He was [sic] oversaw the largest and most effective College Republican National Committee ever, with over 1100 chapters nationwide. He also changed the direction of the committee and made it more activist and conservative than ever before. Jack ran our most successful field programs until that time with very little funding by sending the field representatives out in vans to recruit for months at a time, making the committee more successful than ever before. Jack brought two famous future activists into his administration, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed, as his Executive Directors. Before this time Jack ran the youth effort for Reagan in Massachusetts which produced 10,000 absentee ballot votes in Reagan’s 3000 vote margin of victory. Jack designed and ran the anti nuclear freeze campaign He is a regular lecturer at Georgetown Law Center on entertainment law topics. Jack has hands-on experience in the entertainment industry, he spent ten years as the producer of a number of feature motion pictures including Red Scorpion, an anti communist film made just after Jack’s term as national chairman of the College Republicans.'
Source: Internet Archive http://gtlaw.com/bios/govadmin/abramoffj.htm

Professional Experience

"Lobbyist with Greenberg Traurig, Jan. 2001-March 2004; founder of Eshkol Academy, a school for Orthodox Jews in Montgomery County, Md., 2001; lobbyist with Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, 1994-2001; Hollywood film producer as president of Regency Entertainment Group, 1986-94; director, Citizens for America, pro-Reagan lobbying group, 1985; chairman of college Republicans and member of executive committee, Republican National Committee, early to mid-1980s." [21]


Books

  • Jack Abramoff mentioned in Nina J. Easton's Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Crusade [Simon & Schuster 2000 ISBN 0684838990].

Related Resources

External links

Websites

Biographical

  • "Jack Abramoff" in the Wikipedia.
  • "Biography Box on Jack Abramoff," The Herald Sun, undated.
  • Biography of Jack Abramoff, website of Greenberg Traurig, LLP.
  • Profile: Jack Abramoff, National Chairman, College Republican National Committee, 1981-1985, crnc.org.
  • Scott Stewart, "The College Republicans – A Brief History," crnc.org, July 24, 2002.

Political Connections & Contributions

Interviews & Testimony

Radio/Audio

Articles & Commentary

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