Thursday, January 26, 2006

Saginaw Chippewah Tribe Campaign Contributions

Before hiring Jack Abramoff the Saginaw Chippewah Indian Tribe preferred to give its money to Democrats. After hiring Abramoff it was a completely different story. Those who are following the scandals surrounding the Republican lobbyist are familiar with the assertion that Abramoff directed his Indian clients to send campaign contributions to Democrats. Before I take this discussion any further I will repeat what I have said before, it was not illegal to make or receive these contributions. Democrats have countered with the argument saying Abramoff told his Indian clients to reduce their current level of giving to Democrats. It really appears that the truth lies somewhere in between.

Jack Abramoff may or may not have told his clients who to make contributions to. It looks like he did provide a list of suggested recipients to at least one tribe. It is my understanding that he did not hold a gun to his client's heads, though and the list in question was not followed to the letter. I have not interviewed Jack Abramoff. I do not know for a fact what he did or did not tell his clients. With all this in mind lets take a look at the Saginaw Chippewah Tribe, one of the tribes that hired Abramoff as a lobbyist. He registered to lobby for the tribe on September 11, 2000.

Prior to this date, the Tribe made most of its campaign contributions to Democrats. In 1997 they donated $1000 to Dick Gephardt's campaign and then $90,000 to the DCCC non-federal (soft money) account. In 1998 the Tribe donated $130,000 in two checks to the DCCC non-federal account and $80,000 to the NRCCC non-federal account. In 1999 the contributions dip dramatically, but are all made to the Democratic Party or committee of some type. There was $5000 to the DSCC, $5000 to the DCCC both soft money donations and $1500 to the South Dakota Democratic Party. Nothing to Republicans. In 2000 the tribe gave $2500 in soft money to the DSCC.

Before Jack Abramoff was hired by the Saginaw Chippewah Tribe they had given about 235,000 in 4 years to Democrats and $80,000 in the same time frame to Republicans. Almost all of this was non-federal or soft money. After they hired Jack Abramoff their contribution habits changed dramatically.

In the 2002 election cycle the Tribe gave about 209,000 in federal and non-federal contributions to Republican candidates, pacs and committees. During this same cycle they gave $75,000 to the Democrats.

In the 2004 election cycle the Tribe gave $321,500 to Republican candidates, pacs and committees. In the same cycle they gave the Democrats $215,530.

It's obvious the giving pattern of the Tribe changed after Jack Abramoff was hired. In the four years before hiring Abramoff they had only made one contribution to a Republican committee and that was a soft money donation for $80,000. In the four years after Abramoff was hired the Tribe gave $530,500 to Republicans and $290,530 to Democrats. If Mr. Abramoff was directing the contributions it appears he told the tribe that they needed to give more money to Republicans. Lots more.

Keep in mind that these contributions were legal to give and legal to receive. Only a small fraction of the recipients have either been accused of breaking the law or are currently under investigation for doing so and they are all Republicans.


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