Jack Abramoff, Career Reep Operative

In response to my observation that the late, infamous Ken Lay and Jack Abramoff were both members of the Bush transition team -- that both of these swindlers helped staff the White House back in 2001 -- some Reep apologist commenters over at 2Babes have dragged out the Reep talking points about Abramoff clients donating to Dem candidates too.

Knowing that the claims of "equal-opportunity bribery" by Abramoff had been shot down long ago, I proceeded to post some links to articles detailing the partisan bent of the Abramoff machine.

In true Reep apologist form, of course, no one bothers to address the facts directly, so I went on to point out that all the figures indicted or under investigation as part of the Abramoff case were partisan Reeps, including Abramoff himself. This is an overwhelmingly Republican scandal. In case somebody tried to challenge that statement, I went ahead and poked around for links to back it up.

And, once again, I found a tad bit more than I was looking for:
A quarter of a century ago, Abramoff and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist were fellow Young Turks of the Reagan revolution. They organized Massachusetts college campuses in the 1980 election -- Abramoff while he was an undergraduate at Brandeis and Norquist at Harvard Business School -- to help Ronald Reagan pull an upset in the state.

They moved to Washington, maneuvered to take over the College Republicans -- at the time a sleepy establishment organization -- and transformed it into a right-wing activist group. They were joined by Ralph Reed, an ambitious Georgian whose later Christian conversion would fuel his rise to national political prominence.
In fact, Abramoff was the national chairman of the College Reeps from 1981 to 1985, according to that organization's fact sheet.
At Reagan's 72nd-birthday party at the White House, Reed introduced Abramoff to his future wife, Pam Alexander, who was working with Reed.
[ . . . ]
Abramoff was in frequent contact with Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, the Reagan White House's Iran-contra mastermind, about grass-roots efforts to lobby Congress for the Nicaraguan contras, according to records in the National Security Archive.

One of Abramoff's most audacious adventures involved Jonas Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader who had U.S. support but was later found to have ordered the murders of his movement's representative to the United States and that man's relatives. With Savimbi, Abramoff organized a "convention" of anticommunist guerrillas from Laos, Nicaragua and Afghanistan in a remote part of Angola. Afterward, Lehrman fired Abramoff amid a dispute about the handling of the group's $3 million budget.

Abramoff also worked on behalf of the apartheid South African government, which secretly paid $1.5 million a year to the International Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit group that Abramoff operated out of a townhouse in the 1980s, according to sworn testimony to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Fast-forward a bit:
With Norquist's help, Abramoff secured a spot on the transition team for the Interior Department after George W. Bush was elected president in 2000. He tried to place several officials in Interior, including an unsuccessful attempt to land a former Marianas official in the top spot overseeing U.S. territories.

He was able to befriend J. Steven Griles, the deputy interior secretary, e-mails and interviews show. By the sum mer of 2001, Abramoff was referring to him in an e-mail to a client as "our guy Steve Griles." Federal investigators are now looking into whether Griles interceded on behalf of Abramoff and improperly discussed a job with the lobbyist while in a position to affect his clients. Griles denied any wrong doing in recent testimony to the Senate.

Abramoff's team also cultivated Roger Stillwell, the Marianas desk officer at the Interior Department. In a recent interview, Stillwell said he accepted dinners at Abramoff's restaurant, Signatures, and tickets to Washington Redskins games. But he said that all those actions occurred while he was a contract employee at Interior, not a federal worker. He also said he sent Abramoff copies of e-mails he sent to his boss, but he noted that none of them contained confidential information and that "there's nothing wrong with doing that."
(Stillwell is now expected to enter a guilty plea at his upcoming arraignment for failure to properly report a bribe gift.)

This is Jack Abramoff -- Reep zealot, swindler, kingpin in the DeLay money machine.

He helped staff the Bush Interior Department.

He personally raised $100,000 for Bush's reelection.

His business partner, Michael Scanlon, was Tom DeLay's press secretary.

His top political allies were Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed.

So far, the investigation into his operation has netted two Bush administration officials -- David Safavian (whose wife, not suspected of any wrongdoing as far as I can tell, is a top staffer for the House Government Reform Committee) and Roger Stillwell.

He also had contacts with much bigger fish, like John Ashcroft, Karl Rove, and Ken Mehlman.

But, the Reep apologists claim, all this is negated by the fact that some tribes that hired Abramoff gave money to Harry Reid, while Reid was sitting on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Such is the logic of false equivalency.

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