Saturday, January 07, 2006

DeLay Quits Leadership Post

Tom DeLay has given up hope of regaining his leadership post in the House. CBS has more on the decision.

UPDATE: The text of the letter from DeLay to Hastert is here. The text of the letter from DeLay to the House GOP is here.

Duke Wore a Wire, Oh My!

This aughta make 'em pucker.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fineman Gives Winners and Losers in Abramoff Scandal

Howard Fineman has written an article about the winners and losers in the Abramoff scandal. When I saw the headline I was expecting to see a few more specifics, but I'll let him slide since I happen to agree with him on most of it.

Fineman says the biggest losers will be members of Congress, the Republican Party, the DeLay-Hastert groupie set and the Rove-Bush White House. You can read his article

I think there are some other losers as well. As sappy as it sounds I think the kids who were never helped by the phony charity, Capital Athletic Foundation, are on the losing end of this deal. And what about all those people who donated money to CAF? Aren't they on the losing end as well? But then, I haven't noticed much outrage coming from the influential congressmen and senators who usually attended these galas. Do you think that maybe there's no outrage because they all knew CAF was just a phony front anyway?

It's just a little something to think about.

Narrowing the Choices for 2008

That does it! Hillary is out. I had never actually considered voting for her, but she's making it much easier to go ahead and narrow the field.

According to
CNN, Hillary and campaign officials hired three-time felon, Peter F. Paul, to help finance a lavish Hollywood fundraiser in 2000. There were huge financial discrepancies between real costs and what was filed with the FEC.

Paul has claimed the event cost more than $1.9 million, even though campaign reports at the time put the price tag at about $500,000. As part of the agreement, the actual cost is now put at $1.2 million, with almost $400,000 unreported for the cost of producing the concert, and nearly $100,000 unreported for travel and lodging costs.

That's not really the part that bothers me. Clinton has agreed to pay the fine which is more than Elizabeth Dole has agreed to do with her FEC fine. (I'll rant more on that later.) What bothers me is this. THREE-TIME FELON! What in God's name were you thinking Hillary? Please tell me you were a little more hands-on than that.

So, the field narrows by one.

And one more thing.....a fundraiser is where you actually make money for the campaign, not spend grotesque amounts to entertain the Hollywood types.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Con Men, Liars and Thieves - Abramoff Timeline

Update and bump....... I will be adding the information from the Abramoff plea deal in Blue as it is the factual basis for the plea and should be distinguished from dates obtained from news sources.

Also, please remember that no person named in this timeline is guilty of any crime unless or until they plead guilty or are convicted.

The following is my working timeline on the events and the lies surrounding these events in the Jack Abramoff/Senate/Congress scandals. My plan is to continue to fill the timeline and to research and write on the characters. Please let me know if you see any corrections I need to make or any items that need to be added to the timeline.

1994 - 2001 - Abramoff worked for the D.C. lobbying office of the law firm Preston Gates Ellis. Also at the firm were former DeLay aides Michael Scanlon and William Jarrell, David Safavian, and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, then a Preston Gates contractor.

1995 - Abramoff was hired by the Mississippi Tribe

1999 - Political lobbyists, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist contact Jack Abramoff separately to say they want to do business.

July 1999 - Abramoff establishes a private foundation, The Capital Athletic Foundation. He sought tax-exempt status for CAF saying it was in part providing funding for a non-profit school. In reality, Abramoff used this fund and Kaygold, LLC (set up in 2001) to receive funds for his personal benefit, to conceal the true destination of the funds and to avoid paying income taxes.

Feb. 2000 - Boulis begins to negotiate the sale of SunCruz To Abramoff and Kidan.

Feb. 7, 2000 - Abramoff warned Reed that an initial payment for anti-lottery radio ads would be less than Reed expected because Abramoff needed to give Norquist some money.

Feb. 22, 2000 - Abramoff noted that Norquist had kept an additional 25k. Norquist later said he had permission.

2000 - Abramoff forced the Choctaws to give the Alabama Christian Coalition $1.15 million in installments. Norquist agreed to pass the money on to the Coalition and another Alabama anti-gambling group, both of which Reed was mobilizing for the fight against a proposed Alabama state lottery.

March 2000 - Bob Ney denounces owners of SunCruz (Boulis) on the floor of Congress and accuses SunCruz of cheating customers.

March 2000 through 2001 - Michael Scanlon goes to work for Preston Gates and then Greenberg Traurig as a public relations specialist. Abramoff was influential in Scanlon being hired at both firms.

2000 - Ney goes on all-expense-paid trip to Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands paid for by Abramoff.

May 2000 - Golf trip #1 - Tom DeLay flew to London and Scotland. The trip was charged to Abramoff's credit card. Trip included Abramoff, DeLay and Rudy.

June 9, 2000 - DeLay's office gives Boulis a flag that has flown over the Capitol.

June 15, 2000 - Abramoff, Kidan, Rudy and SunCruz executive, Joan Wagner and her husband flew to Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open. They flew from D.C. in the SunCruz corporate jet.

June wk 3, 2000 - Boulis agrees to sell SunCruz to Abramoff and Kidan for $145 million.

Sept. 18, 2000 - SunCruz principles meet in New York City to begin finalizing the sale of the cruise casinos.

Sept. 18, 2000 - Kidan and Greg Walker of Foothill Capital travel to D.C. to join Abramoff and DeLay for a DeLay event in Abramoff's luxury box during a Redskins vs. Cowboys football game.

Sept. 26, 2000 - Final terms of SunCruz sale determined.

Sept. 27, 2000 - Kidan and partner, Waldman each fax a document to lenders offering proof that a $23 million wire transfer had been executed sending the money to Boulis's bank.

Oct. 26, 2000 - Ney praises Kidan and Abramoff as new owners of SunCruz in a speech in the House.

Dec. 5, 2000 - Boulis and Kidan fight at a business meeting. Kidan refuses to pay his debt to Boulis saying that problems with SunCruz were not disclosed prior to the sale.

Dec. 13, 2000 - Kidan begins sending payments totaling $145,000 to Anthony Moscatiello and his daughter for food and beverage services. Moscatiello has ties to the Gambino crime family.

2001-2004 - Senator Charles Grassley received over $62,000 in donations from Abramoff related groups.

Jan. 2001 - Abramoff goes to work for Greenberg Traurig law firm.

2001 - Tony Rudy goes to work with Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig law firm.

Jan. 2001 - Michael Scanlon establishes Capital Campaign Strategies, LLC to perform grass roots work, public relations services and election campaign support. Scanlon also established other companies, collectively known as CCS, which mainly received money for work performed by others.

2001 - Abramoff and Scanlon agree that Abramoff will encourage his clients, four Indian tribes, to obtain grass roots and public relations assistance through company CCS. CCS charged the clients an amount that was significantly more than it cost CCS to perform this function. Abramoff and Scanlon agreed that Abramoff would receive 50% of the net profits made on these four clients.

Early 2001 - Abramoff convinces Mississippi Tribe to hire CCS without informing them that he would receive 50% of the profits.

June 2001 to 2004 - The Mississippi Tribe paid CCS $14,765,000 with Abramoff secretly receiving almost half.

Jan. 19, 2001 - Boulis seeks injunction against Kidan ordering him to pay what he owes and preventing him from operating the cruise line.

Jan. 20, 2001 - George W. Bush is sworn in as President.

Jan 20, 2001 - Kidan and Scanlon fly to D.C. and attend Inauguration Day reception in DeLay's office.

Jan 28, 2001 - SunCruz leases jet to take current and former aides to DeLay and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), to Super Bowl in Tampa and for a night of gambling aboard SunCruz ship.

Feb. 6, 2001 - Boulis shot and killed while driving from work in Fort Lauderdale.

March 15, 2001 - At a fundraiser at MCI Center For Bob Ney $1000 contributions are made to Ney by Abramoff, Kidan and three other SunCruz executives.

March 2001 - Abramoff and Scanlon solicit Louisiana Tribe to hire them as lobbyists. After being paid for the first project, Abramoff convinced the Tribe to rehire CCS hiding the fact that he would receive 50% of the net profit.

March 2001 to May 2003 - The Louisiana Tribe paid CCS approximately $30,510,000 with Abramoff pocketing almost $11,450,000.

June 22, 2001 - SunCruz files for bankruptcy.

Nov. 12, 2001 - Reed sent Abramoff an email asking for details so he(Reed) can let Cornyn know what they would be doing to help him.

Nov. 2001 - Abramoff establishes Kaygold, LLC, a solely owned entity. Kaygold was used along with the Capital Athletic Foundation to receive funds for his personal benefit and to hide the true destination of money received.

Jan. 2002 - Abramoff and Scanlon solicit Michigan Tribe to hire them to provide lobbying and grass roots services.

Jan. 4, 2002 - Abramoff sends email to Scanlon saying “[Reed] is a bad version of us! No more money for him.” In the email Abramoff was questioning whether Ralph Reed had properly accounted for funds spent on Indian gambling projects.

Jan. 7, 2002 - Reed sends an email to Abramoff telling him they need to budget for an "attaboy" for Cornyn.

Feb. 2002 - Abramoff and Scanlon solicit Texas Tribe as clients. The Texas Tribe gaming business had been closed by the state of Texas because the tribe did not have federal or state permission to run a gambling casino. Abramoff and Scanlon told the tribe they would work for them to reopen the casino and then expand it to a more lucrative facility. In return for doing this it was agreed that the Texas Tribe would pay $4,200,000 and they agreed to make substantial political campaign contributions at the direction of Abramoff. The two men did not disclose to the Texas tribe that they had already been paid millions by the Louisiana Tribe to work against all gaming in the Texas legislature.

June 2002 - Abramoff convinces Michigan Tribe to expand the services they receive from CCS.

June 2002 - Oct. 2003 - Michigan Tribe pays CCS about $3,500,000 with Abramoff receiving about $500,000.

July 22, 2002 - Abramoff sent David Safavian an email outlining a letter to be sent by at least 2 congressmen to the General Services Administration supporting a lease for office space for some of Abramoff's clients in an old post office building downtown.

2002 - Safavian asks GSA permission to attend golf trip to Scotland with Abramoff assuring them that Abramoff had no business in front of the GSA.

Aug. 2002 - Golf trip #2 - Robert Ney, David Safavian, Ralph Reed, Neil Volz fly to Scotland with Abramoff. Trip cost more than $120,000 and was paid for mostly by a charity that had been started and was run by Abramoff, the Capital Athletic Foundation.

2002 - Abramoff was retained under a secret contract by the Guam Superior Court to lobby against a bill proposing to put Superior Court under the authority of the Guam Supreme Court. The $324,000 was paid to Abramoff through a Laguna Beach, California, lawyer by means of 36 checks of $9,000 each. If done to avoid the federal reporting requirements for payment transfers this would constitute illegal structuring under 31 USC 5324(a). The form of payment might also be illegal if it was used to evade federal contracting rules requiring an open tender for contracts over $10,000.

2002 - After Abramoff worked with Reed to close the casino of the Tigua tribe, he persuaded the tribe to hire him to lobby Congress to reopen the casino.

2002 - After persuading the Tigua to hire him Abramoff met with Robert Ney to ask him to push the legislation, the Tigua (by overnight mail) sent three checks to Ney's political committees, totaling $32,000. The apparent exchange of campaign contributions in return for Ney's support of an amendment to reopen the Tigua's casino could constitute bribery.

Nov. 18, 2002 - a grand jury issued a subpoena demanding that the administrator of the Guam Superior Court release all records relating to the contract.

Nov. 19, 2002 - U.S. Atty. Frederick A. Black, the chief prosecutor for Guam and the instigator of the indictment, was unexpectedly demoted and removed from the office he had held since 1991. The federal grand jury investigation was ended abruptly.

Nov. 2002 - U.S. Attorney in Florida begins investigating sale of SunCruz concentrating on missing $23 million.

2003 - David Safavian lies to the GSA during an investigation by its Ispector General about his relationship with Abramoff.

May 2003 - U.S. Atty. Frederick Black who had been demoted unexpectedly and thus removed from an investigation into Abramoff's involvement in the Guam courts

May 2003 - Abramoff establishes GrassRoots Interactive (GRI) saying it would provide grass roots work, public relations services and election campaign support.

2003 - Golf trip #3 Congressman Tom Feeney III,

July 2003 - Abramoff asked for $9 million from the President of Gabon, Omar Bongo, in exchange for a face to face meeting with President Bush. Bush later met with Bongo. There is no evidence Abramoff actually arranged the meeting.

Nov. 4, 2003 - David Safavian nominated by President Bush to become the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. His confirmation ran into trouble when he was listed as one of five lobbyists working for a man with ties to terrorists.

May 26, 2004 - The President of Gabon, Omar Bongo met with President Bush. It is unknown whether this was as a result of Abramoff's influence.

April 2004 - Safavian presented a letter to the Senate Government Affairs Committee from Janus-Merritt claiming they had named the wrong person as their contact when naming Almoudi.

2004 - Abramoff resigned from Greenberg Traurig

March 17, 2005 - David Safavian lies to the Senate committee on Indian affairs about his relationship with Jack Abramoff.

2005 - Edward Miller, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. (R-MD)

May 26, 2005 - David Safavian lies to the FBI about his relationship to Jack Abramoff.

Aug. 11, 2005 - Jack Abramoff, a powerful Republican lobbyist, and his partner at Suncruzwas Adam Kidan were indicted on August 11, on bank fraud charges related to his purchase of the cruise line.

Aug. 12, 2005 - Abramoff released on bail of $2.25 million. He had to give up his passport and his travel was restricted to California, Florida and Maryland. He also has to continue mental health treatments.

Sept., 2005 - Three men arrested in the murder of Konstantinos Boulis. He owned Suncruz before it was purchased by Abramoff and Kidan. Anthony Moscatiello, Anthony Ferrari and James Fiorillo were arrested on murder and conspiracy charges. Moscatiello has been linked to the Gambino crime family.

Sept. 19, 2005 - David Safavian, head of federal procurement policy at the Office of management and the Budget, was arrested and charged with lying to investigators and obstructing the federal investigation into Abramoff.

Dec. 1, 2005 - three Texas public interest groups filed a complaint with Travis County Attorney David Escamilla alleging that Reed failed to register as a lobbyist in 2001 or 2002 when he was working for Abramoff.

Jan. 3, 2006 - Jack Abramoff pleads guilty to Conspiracy, Honest Services Mail Fraud and Tax Evasion.

Update: I failed to source this. I apologize. I will give a full bibliography as soon as I can. It is quite long as I used every source on the net and in the MSM that I could find. One of my favorite and first stops on the web is Wikipedia. I also use Sourcewatch, The Washington Post and The New York Times. The exact web pages and articles will be posted later today.


Update to Abramoff Timeline Coming Today

I am currently adding all of the dates from the Abramoff indictment to the timeline. I'm afraid it will get cumbersome, but I can't figure out any other way to do it.

And another thing..... As much as some of us feel joy over the trouble the Abramoff deal will bring to certain Congressmen, let's remember they are innocent until they plead or are convicted. I will repeat what I've said before. Greed is a terrible thing and I'm afraid it is going to take some folks down in D.C.

What I'm trying to understand now is why so many of these powerful men felt the need to get their wives involved in the whole mess? I wonder how many of these folks will wind up divorced?

UPDATE: It isn't the indictment I'm getting new dates from, it's the plea agreement. Sorry, was too excited about some local news to pay attention to what I am doing. I won't let it happen again...until the next time it happens.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Life Wasted

The opinion piece in The Washington Post by the father of a Camp Lejeune marine who died in Iraq is one of the most powerful pieces I've read by a parent. This is more powerful than anything I've read by Cindy Sheehan. Paul Schroeder may be speaking from grief, but his thoughts are clear and expressed beautifully.

Lance Cpl. Edward "Augie" Schroeder died, along with 13 others, on his fifth mission to clear Haditha, Iraq. Paul Schroeder comments that the reality of the situation as told to him by his son was in stark contrast to what was being relayed by Condoleezza Rice.

I am outraged at what I see as the cause of his death. For nearly three years,the Bush administration has pursued a policy that makes our troops sitting ducks. While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that our policy is to "clear, hold and build" Iraqi towns,there aren't enough troops to do that.

In our last conversation, Augie complained that the cost in lives to clear insurgents was "less and less worth it," because Marines have to keep coming back to clear the same places. Marine commanders in the field say the same thing. Without sufficient troops, they can't hold the towns. Augie was killed on his fifth mission to clear Haditha.

Schroeder goes on to say that Americans need to criticize the war more openly. He says it isn't a dishonor to those who have fallen and that Bush's claim that it is, is twisted logic. You don't honor the dead by killing more innocent Americans. Schroeder says his son's death was a waste.

Though it hurts, I believe that his death -- and that of the other Americans who have died in Iraq -- was a waste. They were wasted in a belief that democracy would grow simply by removing a dictator -- a careless misunderstanding of what democracy requires. They were wasted by not sending enough troops to do the job needed in the resulting occupation -- a careless disregard for professional military counsel.

As I read this piece I wanted nothing more than to reassure Mr. Schroeder that his son's death was not a waste. Mr. Schroeder, my words are meaningless, but I am so very sorry. Sadly, this attempt at a legacy by Bush has robbed our country of so many promising lives. How can that be anything but a waste?

President Bush, democracy in Iraq won't be your legacy. History will remember you as the President who killed thousands of innocent Americans for a made-up war with trumped-up causes. The names of thousands of innocent Americans who died in Iraq will be linked to your name forever. We will never, ever forget.

This is cross-posted at The Southern Dem.