Saturday, January 28, 2006

Abramoff Directs Contributions to Republicans

Previously I posted that the Saginaw Chippew Indian Tribe showed a dramatic change in their political contribution habits after hiring Jack Abramoff. It appears the same is true of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the first tribe to hire him.

The Tribe hired Jack Abramoff in 1995. In the 1996 election cycle they obviously favored Democrats with a soft money contribution to the DNC of $25,000 and only $5000 in soft money to the NRCCC that same year. There were only two individual campaign contributions made and they were to Barbara Boxer and John Conyers, both Democrats.

There were no contributions made by the tribe in the 1998 election cycle. This strikes me as odd since they had already retained the services of Jack Abramoff. It appears during this time that Abramoff wasn't directing any contributions by the tribe to Republicans or Democrats. Perhaps it was because his scheme with Michael Scanlon to play the tribes against each other hadn't started taking shape.

In the 2000 election cycle all of that changed. The Mississippi Choctaw, a tribe that had previously shown a desire to give their money to Democrats, started giving large sums of money to Republicans. In this election cycle they gave $226, 750 to Republican candidates, PACs and committees and only $60,000 to Democrat candidates, PACs and committees.

The following cycle these contributions jumped even higher for both parties with the level of giving being much higher for Republicans. The Tribe gave $488,000 in federal and non-federal contributions to Republicans and $295,750 to Democrats with the number of Republicans receiving contributions being almost three times that of Democrats.

The final election cycle when Jack Abramoff had influence over the Tribe was the 2004 cycle. He resigned from Greenberg Traurig in early 2004. With Abramoff's exit in the middle of this cycle there is a reduction in Republican contributions. They received a total of $215,167. Democrats received $151,023. One interesting change is the Tribe gave $100,000 to the Republican Governor's Association and $150,000 to the Democratic Governor's Association during this cycle.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians began their political involvement by giving almost exclusively to Democrats. Contributions made in the year Abramoff's influence was waning also favored Democrats and these two facts combined makes it clear to me that this tribe naturally favored Democrats for their financial gifts.

The American Prospect has commissioned the firm Dwight L. Morris and Associates to study these same numbers. While their study is very professional and has a more extensive scope our conclusions have been the same. All of this data is free to those who wish to dig around in FEC filings. You can also obtain some free information from FECinfo. Open Secrets has also compiled a great deal of campaign finance information that is free to the public.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ann Coulter Plots to Kill Supreme Court Justice

She also says she doesn't see a problem with crack cocaine, or maybe it was the she doesn't have a problem with crack cocaine.

Hehehe...sorry, but if someone from the left joked about putting rat poison in Scalito's creme broulee Coulter would be convulsive with anger and the spittle would be flying.

The link for the actual article is here.

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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Don't Miss Jane Hamsher Live Chat at 1:00pm EST

Jane Hamsher from FireDogLake will be participating in a live chat with the Washington Post at 1:00p.m. EST. The following is the question I submitted. I do not expect it to be read or answered.

The traditional media has long been inaccessible to it's readers and viewers and could control criticism by simply not printing it. With the internet and the popularity of blogs the public now has the ability to criticize traditional media openly and in real time even if you don't allow comments on your site. Do you think that this will improve the quality of the information delivered by the Washington Post?

Journalistic integrity is the core issue here, not whether Abramoff gave money to Democrats. Also, Ms. Howell's comment was not inartful. It was irresponsible and exposed her lack of integrity. She found the only way to include Democrats in the Abramoff scandal and she plugged it in as if to paint them with the same brush as DeLay, Ney, Abramoff, Safavian, Scanlon and the other Republicans who are actually involved in the scandal side of this issue. There were many, many politicians from both parties who received money from Indian Tribes who did absolutely nothing wrong. In refusing to include this qualifying information Ms. Howell failed her readers and the Washington Post.

Jane will be live blogging the exchange on her site, so open a couple of windows and join in the fun! Don't forget the Open Letter to the Washington Post site.

The Truth about Abramoff Contributions

The truth about lobbyists and campaign contributions is simple. It isn't illegal to receive them and in the case of the Abramoff scandal, it isn't illegal to receive them from Indian Tribes. It isn't illegal to receive campaign contributions that were directed by a lobbyist. There are a lot of Democrats and Republicans who received contributions from Indian Tribes from 1999 to 2004 who are guilty of doing absolutely nothing wrong.

I'm amazed at the members of the press who become convulsive with glee at the thought of painting Democrats as being complicit in Mr. Abramoff's illegal actions simply because they received campaign contributions from his clients. Quite frankly, mentioning the contributions is the only way for the press to include Democrats in this scandal. For some reason they are so terrified that they will be accused of unfairness by the conservatives, the traditional media has overcorrected and what has resulted is a train wreck.

The Washington Post has been the worst offender. No matter how hard reporters, editors and ombudsmen for the Washington Post try, they don't seem to be able to tell the truth about contributions made or directed by Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. They refuse to correct their inaccurate reporting and they're digging themselves into a very deep hole. At some point, the entire truth will be out and the public will know the Washington Post reporters were either completely uninformed or they were intentionally lying. Either way, the hole will then be so deep they won't be able to climb out.

The Dems, like many of their Republican counterparts probably had no idea that there was anything illegal going on with Mr. Abramoff and his tribal clients. In looking at the lists available through several different sources and knowing what I know about the whole mess, what strikes me as odd is that Abramoff really only had to buy off a few people to pull this thing off. These laundry lists of contribution orders would have been unneccesary if he weren't in it to line his own pockets. These lists, however, created a diversion.

Abramoff had to make the tribes and their leaders believe that playing with the big dogs in Washington cost a lot of money. He had to do this so that when he slid in lists that included contributions to the Capital Athletic Fund and other "unknown" entities, the tribes would write the checks without question because at that point it was business as usual. The contributions spread around to primarily Republicans helped ensure a Republican majority in Congress. This was a good thing for Mr. Abramoff. They stayed in power, he remained powerful.

If you believe what the Washington Post is saying then you are assuming that the Indian tribes had no mind or will of their own. Many had made financial contributions to political candidates before they hired Jack Abramoff as their lobbyist, so to say he directed all of their contributions is false. As reported in the Clarion-Ledger, Chief Phillip Martin of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, had this to say:

"The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has voluntarily contributed to political campaigns and causes along the ideological spectrum for more than a decade," Martin said in a Dec. 21 letter to Hayworth. "Our decisions on political contributions were made by us. They were not coerced or controlled by our former lobbyist, Mr. Jack Abramoff, with whom we have severed all our ties."

Questions have been raised about one of the graphics touted by Deborah Howell, Ombudsman for the Washington Post, as proof that Abramoff directed his clients to make contributions to Democrats. That graphic can be found here. Ms. Howell obviously failed to check the information carefully. The list has 3 Democrats on it. When checked against the contributions made by the tribe in question it is discovered that the tribe, the Coushattas, evidently did not follow Abramoff's advice. He may have directed them to make contributions to the Democrats on the list, but they either did not or they made a contribution for a lesser amount. Update: This has been taken up in a discussion at TPM Cafe by Mark Schmitt.

In the partial list shown in the Washington Post graphic Jean Carnahan's name is seen with a contribution suggestion of $2000. While the Coushatta bank register shown here does have a contribution shown for Carnahan, there isn't one found in her FEC filing. This is easily explained. Roy Temple, Carnahan's Chief of Staff while she was in the Senate, is quoted in the TPM Cafe discussion comments as saying,

I was Senator Carnahan's Chief of Staff during her tenure in the U.S. Senate. Senate Carnahan had a policy against accepting Indian gaming funds.

She did not solicit money from the Coushatta in 2002, nor would she have accepted it had it been offered.

A review of her contributions database show no contributions from the Coushatta, or any related entity. Nor did a review of her FEC reports produce any reason to believe that such a contribution made it through the contribution screening process

Clearly, the WaPo did not care if their graphic was accurate. Deborah Howell has waved it in our faces as proof that Abramoff directed his clients to give contributions to Democrats. Big Damn Deal Deborah. That's what lobbyists do. It isn't illegal and I'm tired of traditional media outlets grabbing this one little tidbit and turning this scandal into something other than what it is.

To date every single person under investigation or under indictment is a REPUBLICAN. Plain and simple. End of story.

UPDATE: There are a few things that will be updated soon with this post. I have tables of numbers breaking out the contributions and realized that some did not include soft money. I will be adding that and then will post the numbers tomorrow.

UPDATE II: While I've been researching FEC filings this week other people have been writing about this. Jane and Redd at Firedoglake have done their usual stellar job, so head on over. Jane has truely been in rare form.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Holding Their Feet to the Fire

I haven't posted much over the past week, but I have been busy working on some research involving FEC filings. Quite a bit has happened in the traditional media with Deborah Howell's fiasco, Chris Matthews comparing Michael Moore to Osama Bin Laden and then there's Tim Russert saving a question about an African American for an African American. You know they all know each other, right? Timmeh sure stepped in it.

If you aren't up on all the week's happenings I suggest a visit to FireDogLake. Jane, Redd and their regulars will fill you in. You can also find out a bit more by reading up at the sites developed to show the love to these fine journalists. Stop by An Open Letter to Chris Matthews, An Open Letter to Tim Russert, and the new Washington Post feedback blog and let them know just how much you appreciate the fine work they do.

President Bush Stepping in His Own Shit Again

Just read Glenn Greenwald's latest post on just how deep the shit is getting over illegal wiretaps.

Nothing more needs to be said.