Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bush, Norquist, Abramoff and Indians

If you think those four have something to do with each other, you might just be on to something:

The chief of an Indian tribe represented by the lobbyist Jack Abramoff was admitted to a meeting with President Bush in 2001 days after the tribe paid a prominent conservative lobbying group $25,000 at Mr. Abramoff's direction, according to documents and interviews.

The payment was made to Americans for Tax Reform, a group run by Grover G. Norquist, one of the Republican Party's most influential policy strategists. Mr. Norquist was a friend and longtime associate of Mr. Abramoff.

Mr. Norquist attended the meeting, along with Mr. Abramoff and the tribal leader, Raul Garza of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas. It is not clear what role, if any, Mr. Norquist played in getting Chief Garza into the meeting, and there is no suggestion that the White House was aware of the $25,000 payment.

I'm sure it's all just one big coincidence. You know, Abramoff just happened to get Garza in to this particular function, Norquist just happened to be there too, his group just happened to take some of that money. After all, we know how these things work...twice.

There is only one other documented instance in which Mr. Abramoff was able to obtain a White House meeting for one of his tribal clients through Mr. Norquist, and it occurred the same day of the visit by the Kickapoo leader. On that day, a leader of a Louisiana tribe has said he attended a separate event by Americans for Tax Reform that was also attended by Mr. Bush.

Documents obtained by investigators for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee show that the second tribe, the Louisiana Coushattas, also paid $25,000 to Mr. Norquist's group shortly before the meeting, although the tribe has been unwilling to say if its chief had the same opportunity as the Kickapoo chief to talk briefly with Mr. Bush and be photographed with him.

What do our little tax reformers have to say about this?

On being presented with a copy of a letter dated May 10, 2001, in which one of its officials acknowledged receipt of the $25,000 donation, Americans for Tax Reform responded that it did not seek money for White House access. John Kartch, the group's communications director, said, "No money was ever collected for admission to these events."

Of course not! Who would think such a thing??

As for these tribes:

Mr. Kartch said the anti-tax group "did not want liberals unfairly smearing tribes that supported the president's agenda."

How touching! Truly, it would be shame if liberals turned on on tribes that were naive/dumb/greedy enough to get suckered into giving away their casino money away for "access" to the highest circles of power in Washington. It would be a shame if they forgot who the real villains were, wouldn't it?

As for these tribes...well, you know how I feel about them. These tribal leaders have paid for their behavior by getting tossed out by tribal members(or being charged with unrelated crimes in Garza's case), but I'm afraid that so long as the lure of easy casino money exists, tribal members will simply vote new leaders into office who's foremost desire will be to foolishly cozy up to Republicans in power who want their money and nothing else, and spend millions trying to squash other tribes' casino efforts.


Nat-Wu said...

Dammit, will the tribes ever get decent leadership?

Anonymous said...

I am member of the coushatta tribe in limbo right now. I'm not sure when we will ever get decent leadership. To many of us not knowing of Kevin Sickeys motives, he was seen as a saving grace from Lovlin Poncho. Now with the new enrollment ordinance, that disenrolls many members, a large part children, we are again in the mist of internal conflict. Many feel this is a result of the scandal the Coushattas are facing with the lobbyists, trying to decrease the number on tribal roll, to increase per cap. Yet this is not certain, the council will not return any phone calls made to them by the affected members of the ordinance.