Americans for Tax Reform and Jack Abramoff
Americans for Tax Reform and Jack Abramoff are connected through Grover Norquist, the "[g]uru of the anti-tax, neo-con movement, best known for his desire to reduce government to the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub," Geov Parrish reported December 12, 2005, in Working for Change.
History of the relationship between Norquist and Abramoff
"Norquist," Parrish wrote, "met Abramoff through the College Republicans in the early '80s; he managed Abramoff's successful campaign to become chair of that group. Norquist co-authored Newt Gingrich's 1994 'Contract with America', and gained influence as a close ally of Gingrich. He worked with Abramoff to lobby for the Northern Mariannas Islands sweatshops."
The backround of the questionable funneling of money
Ralph E. Reed, Jr. and Norquist are "implicated in the questionable funneling by Abramoff of more than $4 million of Preston Gates Ellis Native American client funds to back antigambling campaigns run by Reed from 1999 to 2003," Parrish wrote. "In one case involving funds from an Indian casino client, as much as $1.3 million in client funds may have been used to launch a campaign.
Involvement of Americans for Tax Reform
At least some of the Preston Gates money was allegedly laundered through Norquist's anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform, which took a cut. The point was for Abramoff's Native American casino clients to pay for campaigns that would shut out potential competition from state lotteries or new casinos. Americans for Tax Reform also laundered Reed money from Abramoff client eLottery to help defeat the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act in 2000.
"Norquist accompanied Abramoff, Ralph Reed, General Services Administration head David Safavian, and Ohio Rep. Robert Ney on a 2002 golf trip to Scotland in which Abramoff allegedly illegally picked up the costs for Ney and for Safavian, a former Norquist business partner in the firm Janus Merritt Strategies. Norquist raised big bucks for the 2004 Bush re-election. He also chairs the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, established to build monuments to Reagan; fellow board members include former House Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Bush political advisor Karl Rove, and Rabbi Daniel Lapin," Parrish wrote.
$25,000 each to ATF admits two tribal leaders to meetings with Bush
Philip Shenon reported in the March 10 New York Times that, according to documents and interviews, Abramoff client Raul Garza, chief of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, was allowed to atend a reception with President Bush on May 9, 2001, just days after he gave $25,000 to Norquest's Americans for Tax Reform at Abramoff's direction.
Mr. Norquist organized and attended the May 9 reception in Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds to thank two dozen state legislators for their support of the president's 2001 tax cuts pending before Congress. Abramoff also attended. Garza had no direct involvement in the issue, but talked briefly with Mr. Bush and was photographed with him. Abramoff is shown in the background, although Bush has said he does not remember meeting the lobbyist.
Isidro Garza, unrelated to Raul Garza, served as the cheif's principal advisor. He said that Abramoff described the donation to Norquist's group as a "good investment" in the tribe's Wahisngton lobbying efforts. Mr. Garza said he arranged for the payment although he saw little direct connection between the tribe's interests and those of Americans for Tax Reform
Both Garzaz were ousted from the tribe which made possible their indictments. Mr. Abramoff might have had reason to want an overhaul of the tribe's leadership. In 2001, Isidro Garza said, the Kickapoos rejected a proposal from Michael Scanlon, Mr. Abramoff's business partner, that the tribe pay $2 million in fees for a lobbying campaign on behalf of the tribe's casino
In a letter dated May 10, 2001, provided to the New York Times by Isidro Garza, Jennifer Kuhn, the tax group's vice president for finance wrote, "Thank you for your generous support of our work...I have received your contribution for $25,000."
On being presented with a copy of a letter, Americans for Tax Reform's communication director, John Kartch, rssponded, "No lobbying occurred at these events, which were similar in nature to a bill-signing, with people listening to the president speak,"
- Geov Parrish, "The Abramoff primer. Four scandals, 25 players, one sad episode for American democracy," Working for Change, December 12, 2005.
- Shenon, Philip, "$25,000 to Lobby Group Is Tied to Access to Bush," New York Times, March 10, 2006.
- James V. Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt, "Senate Report: Five Nonprofit Groups Sold Clout to Abramoff," Washington Post, October 12, 2006.