I don’t believe anybody can now dispute the fact that Ralph Reed was closely connected to Jack Abramoff, the corrupt influence-peddler and lobbyist referred to above, and that corruption in and around government is now a national issue. These two men benefited financially in a very big way from their very close association. It was made quite apparent in Reed’s first venture into politics as a candidate how the American people really feel about corruption in influence-peddling government. As you probably know, Ralph Reed – with all of his political connections and access to huge sums of campaign money – lost his race in Georgia, a race that everybody said when he qualified couldn’t be lost. In fact, right up to election day, the polls showed the race to be a dead heat. It is most significant that Reed was not only defeated, he was beaten soundly. That loss is being seen as most important from a national perspective in relation to the fall elections. I believe it’s an indicator of the public’s attitude concerning corruption and influence-peddling in government. If I am correct, this will be a major factor in the fall elections.
The fact that Reed took gambling money initially seemed to come as a surprise to many of Reed’s followers and supporters, especially those connected to the Christian Coalition. According to a U.S. Senate report, an Indian tribe sent Reed, the former Christian Coalition leader, more than $5.3 million through intermediaries to satisfy what were described as his “political concerns.” The gambling money came to Reed for his work in Alabama to defeat a state lottery and video poker legislation in 1999 and 2000 on behalf of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws. Reed clearly wanted to hide the source of his newly found wealth. His rejection in Georgia, a fairly conservative state, and one where Republicans in national elections have done very well, is most significant and doesn’t bode well for a number of Republican candidates in this fall’s congressional races.
As you may recall, the Mississippi tribe was a client of Abramoff. According to Nell Rogers, a Choctaw official, Reed didn’t want to be paid directly by a tribe with gambling interests. According to Ms. Rogers, who testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, the payment method was recommended by Abramoff “to accommodate Mr. Reed’s political concerns.” Obviously, a major concern to Reed was that it would be very difficult for him to explain to ordinary folks, who were sending their hard earned money monthly to the Christian Coalition, why he was taking millions of dollars of gambling money and working for the casinos. That certainly didn’t fit his public image and the conservative message of morality that he preached.
The bipartisan Senate report clearly tied Reed to the influence-peddling operation run by Abramoff on behalf of Indian tribe casinos. The report by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee portrayed Reed as a central figure in Abramoff’s lobbying operation, which has been the focus of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department. It seems that Reed used his contacts with conservative Christian groups in the South and Southwest beginning in the late 1990s to block the opening or expansion of casinos that might compete with the gambling operations run by Abramoff’s clients.
As you know, Abramoff and his former partner, Michael Scanlon, have pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt public officials and bilking some Indian tribe clients out of tens of millions of dollars. These confessed criminals are still cooperating with a federal grand jury investigation that is threatening to derail the careers of several members of Congress. It was significant that Reed’s name was invoked repeatedly at the trial of David H. Safavian, the former White House aide who was convicted of lying to federal investigators in a matter that involved Abramoff, Congressman Bob Ney (R-OH), and Reed. The Senate report, a result of a two-year investigation by the Indian Affairs Committee, said of Abramoff and Scanlon, ”The depth and breadth of their misconduct was astonishing.”
The Senate report documented payments to Reed from two sources, $1.3 million from the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi, paid through Abramoff’s law firm, Preston Gates, through May 1999, and $4 million that Reed and his associates received from organizations controlled by Scanlon in 2001 and 2002. The report found that Reed’s involvement with Abramoff’s Indian tribe clients actually dated from 1998. At that time, Reed sent a telling e-mail message to his close friend Abramoff, noting that he was “done with electoral politics” and, “I need to start humping in corporate accounts! – I’m counting on you to help me with some contacts.” That pretty well explains what Reed and Abramoff set out to do. The sad part of this story is how Reed used some good folks in the Christian community for his personal financial gain. It’s obvious that the people of Georgia won’t tolerate a hypocrite, and that’s good news. It caught up with Reed in his bid for public office, and it will likely catch up with others in the fall elections.
Reed’s loss in Georgia sends a clear message to all national politicians and one that they best take to heart. That message is that folks don’t like hypocrites, and neither will they tolerate corruption and greed.
Source: Associated Press
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