Salon: "The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees," Scanlon wrote in the memo, which was read into the public record at a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them."
The Texas Observer: Evidence is mounting that former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed Jr., along with a former leader of the Texas Christian Coalition, may have illegally lobbied Texas state officials on behalf of crooked federal lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his clients. (....)
During Jack Abramoff’s reign as chair of the College Republican National Committee in the early 1980s, Ralph Reed and GOP operative Grover Norquist each did stints as that committee’s executive director. Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew, later helped Reed organize the remnants of evangelist Pat Robertson’s failed 1988 presidential bid into the politically potent Christian Coalition in 1989. Reed and Norquist resurfaced a decade later to help Abramoff extract tens of millions of dollars from Indian gambling interests and other clients. Now Abramoff has promised to walk federal prosecutors through his vast web of political corruption, thereby endangering the careers and reputations of members of Congress, other lobbyists and Ralph Reed—just as the preternaturally young-looking evangelist makes his first bid for public office. These prosecutors have subpoenaed records from Reed but have not identified him as a target of their investigation.
An Observer investigation reveals that Reed may not have been the only Christian Coalition leader working secretly for Abramoff’s gambling clients. Reed-Abramoff correspondence indicates that Chuck Anderson, then-head of the Texas Christian Coalition, also helped lobby Texas officials on behalf of Abramoff’s Indian gaming clients. Anderson, who now works for Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, also appears to have worked on Texas gambling issues without registering.
Additionally, the Observer has found evidence that Ralph Reed clandestinely lobbied Texas school officials on behalf of the in-school television network Channel One in 2002—when Channel One’s parent company was paying Abramoff a $320,000 annual retainer. Texas law generally requires people to register as lobbyists if they receive more than $500 a quarter to directly communicate with a state official on public policy. Ralph Reed never registered as a Texas lobbyist despite evidence that he called at least one member of the State Board of Education in 2002 to influence a board resolution. (....)
Just as he enlisted Abramoff to get the Christian Coalition off the ground, Reed turned to his friend to help him start a lobby shop after he left the Coalition in 1997. “I need to start humping in corporate accounts,” Reed wrote Abramoff in 1998. “I’m counting on you to help me with some contacts.”
Reed had left the Christian Coalition under fire. At that time the IRS and the Federal Election Commission were investigating the Coalition, even as the Coalition’s chief financial officer accused Reed of awarding inflated contracts to a crony. When the IRS revoked the Coalition’s tax-exempt status in 1999—owing to overtly political activities—the national group transferred its remaining assets to the Texas Christian Coalition. This Texas chapter was headed by then-Executive Director Chuck Anderson, who appears to have helped Abramoff, Norquist, and Reed implement their Texas gambling agenda in 2001. Like Reed, Anderson did not register as a Texas lobbyist. (....)
Texas requires political operatives to register as lobbyists if they: Spend more than $500 a quarter directly communicating with a state official to influence state policies; or Receive more than $1,000 a quarter for such communications (unless less than 5 percent of a person’s total compensated time is spent on such lobbying). Violating this law is a misdemeanor subject to up to a year in jail and a civil fine of up to three times an individual’s lobby compensation.
In Reed’s case, such a fine could be huge. He reportedly received as much as $4 million just to help the Louisiana Coushatta shut down the Tigua casino in El Paso.
Ralph Reed has declined to discuss his work on Texas gambling issues with the media personally. One week after the lobby complaint was filed he told a Christian youth group that he had been aware that Greenberg Traurig’s tribal clients “had their own reasons for opposing new casinos.” Reed added in his defense that, “I was assured by the law firm… that the funds contributed to our efforts would not derive from gambling activity.”
In this case, either Ralph Reed lied about his knowledge of who was paying his bills, Abramoff’s lobby firm lied, or they both prevaricated. As prosecutors continue to investigate the roles that DeLay, Ney, Reed, and other politicians played in the mushrooming Abramoff scandal, voters—and perhaps even jurors—will get a formal chance to decide whom they believe.