They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

Yet another delightful characterization of Ralph Reed, courtesy of today's McCain report on the Abramoff scandal.

This one comes courtesy of Jack Abramoff himself, via his discussion with Marc Schwartz, a public relations representative for the Tigua tribe in Texas.

Let's pick up the report on page 148. Schwartz was evaluating whether the tribe should hire Abramoff as its lobbyist...

To Schwartz, Abramoff appeared to have the right credentials. Abramoff claimed to be a close friend of Congressman Tom DeLay. He also discussed his friendship with Reed, recounting some of their history together at College Republicans. When Schwartz observed that Reed was an ideologue, Schwartz recalled that Abramoff laughingly replied “as far as the cash goes.” [my emphasis]

I couldn't put it any better myself.

Here's another damning excerpt on Ralph Reed from today's McCain report on the Abramoff scandal.

In this section (see page 56), the report covers Abramoff's work for the Louisianna Coushatta tribe. I'll let the report tell it:

In furtherance of the grassroots strategy devised for the [Lousianna Coushatta] Tribe, Abramoff and Scanlon persuaded the Tribal Council to financially support other groups opposed to gaming expansion, namely Christian evangelical conservatives, to help the Tribe protect its share of the regional gaming market. Abramoff specifically proposed that the Tribe work with former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed. According to [Coushatta lawyer Kathryn] Van Hoof, Abramoff understood that gaming opponents, like Christian conservatives, would of course eschew direct contributions from the Tribe. [Former Coushatta Vice-Chairman William] Worfel recalled that Van Hoof “came back and told us that [sic] a guy named Ralph Reed. She was real careful about a Ralph Reed person. It can’t get out. He’s Christian Coalition. It wouldn’t look good if they’re receiving money from a casino-operating tribe to oppose gaming. It would be kind of like hypocritical.” [my emphasis]

Here's another charming characterization of Michael Scanlon, Tom DeLay's former spokesman who went on to become Jack Abramoff's partner in fraud.

My personal favorite was "Abramoff's evil elf," from Abramoff's Vanity Fair tell-all.

Now, courtesy of the new McCain report, we have “DeLay’s dirty tricks guy,” which is how Abramoff described him to Nell Rogers of the Mississippi Choctaw when pitching his services (see page 31).

I wonder if that's different from the role in DeLay's office of another ex-aide and admitted felon, Tony Rudy -- who was described as "the implementer?"

Here are some damning details about Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist, courtesy of the newly-released McCain Report. It goes into great detail describing Ralph Reed's scheme to launder casino fees through non-profits.

Everybody who's been paying attention to the Abramoff scandal knows that when Ralph Reed, the boy-king of the Christian right, went to work for Jack Abramoff's Indian casino clients (his job was to roust grassroots Christians against competiting gambling platforms), he got skittish about accepting money from the tribes directly, since he's, you know, supposed to be anti-gambling. So he used non-profits, like Grover Norquist's American for Tax Reform, as pass-throughs to disguise the origin of the funds.

But it's refreshing to hear the Senate Indian Affairs Committee not mince words in their report. As part of their retelling of Abramoff's work for the Mississippi Choctaws, the report provides a damning blow-by-blow of how Reed came on this scheme, and how Norquist got started accepting a "management fee" (read: laundering fee) for his services.

The report is unequivocal. According to the Choctaw's planner, Nell Rogers, the tribe agreed to launder the money because "Ralph Reed did not want to be paid directly by a tribe with gaming interests." And at one point, she told the committee, Norquist became "nervous" about laundering the money. (But apparently not too nervous, because he kept on doing it.)

The section on Reed and Norquist begins on page 23 of the 373-page report, but I've reproduced the juiciest excerpt below (with my emphasis). In the beginning, Abramoff paid Reed through his lobbying firm Preston Gates (Abramoff even once suggested that the Choctaw pay Reed directly). But at some point, Reed became uncomfortable with that arrangement.

The report goes on (what follows is all excerpted):

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For those of you in the mood for an extensive recounting of Jack Abramoff's deeds, head on over to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee website and check out their new report (scroll down to "Recent Hearings"). We'll be reading through it, but if anything new catches your eye, we'd love to hear about it (that's our email up in the left hand corner).

Convicted Former White House Official Steps Up Fundraising Efforts Days after a jury found him guilty on four felony counts, David Safavian sent a mass email to friends and supporters. He described himself as "numb — sort of an emotional paralysis," according to Roll Call, which obtained a copy of the note.

But he fought through that paralysis to write his pitch: I'm hanging in there, my family is great, and by the way I'm starting a legal defense fund. He went with a very soft appeal, leading with several paragraphs about the support he's received from his family and friends, a bit about his daughter, a couple grafs on his legal options. . . and finally, the ask:

What do I do now? I know I need to work on the legal defense fund, and am thinking about whether there is a story to tell here. But beyond that, I’m not quite sure. I’m praying for clarity and strength as Jennifer and I begin this next phase of our life together.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. And thank you for what you have done so far. I’m truly grateful.


Keep those cards and letters coming, folks. (Roll Call)

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About two years ago, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee began investigating Jack Abramoff. Finally, the committee will release its report today, a narrative of how Abramoff managed to so thoroughly screw his tribal clients out of so much money.

Now, McCain has already said he won't be dishing on how his fellow lawmakers helped Abramoff -- decorum of the Senate and all that, not to mention the fact that nearly all involved with Abramoff were Republicans, and if McCain wants to run for president, airing other GOPers' dirty laundry won't win him any endorsements on the Hill. And most of what's in the report is expected to be old news. But wait! The committee has 100 pages of unpublished material that might be included -- material that might reveal more of Abramoff's relationship with his buddies Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist. We'll just have to wait and see what's in there.

From Roll Call:

A critical question for the committee was whether to publish any or all of the materials that they never released to the public at the five hearings held on the investigation in 2004 and 2005. This pool includes upward of 100 pages of unreleased documents and e-mails that Indian Affairs has forwarded to the Senate Finance Committee as part of its ongoing probe into criminal activities by nonprofits, which was one avenue Abramoff used to evade taxes.

Those unreleased materials also are expected to contain damaging details about Abramoff’s interactions with other key players in the conservative movement who have so far remained clear of the federal criminal investigation, including Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition director who’s now running for Georgia lieutenant governor, and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

“Wait till the report comes out,” McCain said, when asked about its details.

Finally, we have a response from the Fletcher administration on their blog ban.

Mark Routledge, Deputy Commissioner of the state's Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT), which manages internet service for the state government, told me that the state had not targeted specific sites. Rather, they'd made a decision to block state employees from viewing the entire category of blogs.

The decision was originally instituted yesterday evening at 5 PM, Routledge said, and they made "an adjustment" at 7 AM. No adjustments had been made since then, he said -- contrary to the experience of some readers of TPMm and the Bluegrass Report who wrote in as sites were blocked throughout the morning. "We're not sitting here, seeing where people are going and blacklisting specific sites," Routledge said.

And Routledge wanted to spare me any hurt feelings. "We didn't want you to think that you were being singled out," he said, explaining his decision to call me back. The same went for the Bluegrass Report, which he referred to as "Bluegrass something or other."

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So, AT&T has a secret room in its global internet hub where the government gets to play, and nobody knows what they're doing there. That's what Salon says, anyway. AT&T won't confirm it, saying only the "help" they give the feds is "strictly within the law and under the most stringent conditions."

Now, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that AT&T is rewriting its privacy policy for its Internet customers -- and the new rules say that your data isn't yours anymore. Information about how customers access the internet, once thought to belong to the customer, will belong to AT&T. And they can do anything they want with it, including sharing it with the government for whatever reason they deem "within the law."

The changes would effectively undercut a customer's legal standing to sue the company if it improperly shared his data with anyone, including the government. If you don't agree with the changes, you don't get service.

The new rules go into effect Friday, the Chronicle says.

The state employees' union isn't the only outfit decrying the Kentucky state government's ban on a handful of blogs, most of which appear to be critical of the state's governor, Ernie Fletcher.

Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY), whose district includes the state capitol, has just come out firmly against the policy. "I believe the recent action of the Fletcher administration to block access to a handpicked number of blogs is a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution," Chandler said through a spokeswoman. "This flies in the face of a fundamental right of free speech."

You heard it here first, folks! (Unless you work for the state of Kentucky.)