BY LOU DUBOSE
Four months after he took the oath of office in 2001, President George W. Bush was the attraction, and the White House the venue, for a fundraiser organized by the alleged perpetrator of the largest billing fraud in the history of corporate lobbying.
Since the Post’s Susan Schmidt broke the Jack Abramoff story, the media has focused on the stunning $82 million Abramoff and Scanlon billed six tribes for lobbying and public relations work. Far less attention has been paid to the political contributions, by Abramoff’s account $10 million, made by the six tribes. That piece of the story involves the K Street Project, which moves the money of corporate lobbyists and their clients into the accounts of Republican candidates, PACs, and issue advocacy groups.
In May 2001, Jack Abramoff... had just concluded his work on the Bush Transition Team as an advisor to the Department of the Interior. He had sent his personal assistant Susan Ralston to the White House to work as Rove’s personal assistant. He was a close friend, advisor, and high-dollar fundraiser for the most powerful man in Congress, Tom DeLay.
Abramoff was so closely tied to the Bush Administration that he could, and did, charge two of his clients $25,000 for a White House lunch date and a meeting with the President. From the same two clients he took to the White House in May 2001, Abramoff also obtained $2.5 million in contributions for a non-profit foundation he and his wife operated.
Abramoff’s White House guests were the chiefs of two of the six casino-rich Indian tribes he and his partner Mike Scanlon ultimately billed $82 million for services tribal leaders now claim were never performed or were improperly performed. Together the six tribes would make $10 million in political contributions, at Abramoff’s direction, almost all of it to Republican campaigns of his choosing.
Abramoff brought the Coushatta and Choctaw chiefs to Washington at the request of Grover Norquist. Norquist is founder and director of Americans for Tax Reform, the advocacy group committed to slashing taxes until the federal government is so small you “can drown it in the bathtub.”
Like Abramoff and Rove, Norquist considered George Bush’s victory over Al Gore the culmination of a project the three Washington insiders started 30 years ago as national leaders of the College Republicans.
The White House press office has not responded to our questions about other visits Jack Abramoff might have made to the White House or about Norquist using the official residence of the President to raise funds for Americans for Tax Reform. None of the political contributions Abramoff insisted the tribes make as yet have been returned.
[Newstip by SW]