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April 25, 2005

Abramoff Paid for DeLay Trip to London

By Byron LaMasters

It is against House rules for a registered lobbyist to pay for the travel expenses of a congressman. Jack Abramoff is a Washington lobbyist, and friend of Tom DeLay. Edwin A. Buckham is also a Washington lobbyist. Abramoff and Buckham paid for a 2000 trip to London and Scotland for Tom DeLay. The Washington Post reports:

The airfare to London and Scotland in 2000 for then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist at the center of a federal criminal and tax probe, according to two sources who know Abramoff's credit card account number and to a copy of a travel invoice displaying that number.

DeLay's expenses during the same trip for food, phone calls and other items at a golf course hotel in Scotland were billed to a different credit card also used on the trip by a second registered Washington lobbyist, Edwin A. Buckham, according to receipts documenting that portion of the trip.

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. DeLay, who is now House majority leader, has said that his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization and that the financial arrangements for it were proper. He has also said he had no way of knowing that any lobbyist might have financially supported the trip, either directly or through reimbursements to the nonprofit organization.

The Houston Chronicle has a handy breakdown of the expenses for Tom DeLay's London trip:

Details of a trip to Britain taken by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in May 2000, based on travel and other documents:

  • Business Class tickets for DeLay and his wife to London on Continental Airlines and British Airways: $6,938.70

  • Golfing fees at St. Andrews: $5,000 per golfer, including DeLay.

  • Deluxe room at the London Four Seasons Hotel: $790 a night for four nights.

  • Private car from Heathrow airport to the hotel: $302.

  • Six theater tickets: $434. (DeLay's attorney said the lawmaker did not recall attending the theater but the tickets were charged to his room)

More at the Daily DeLay.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at April 25, 2005 11:25 AM | TrackBack


Hi BOR folks. Please support this diary at Daily Kos. We have launched a new right wing monitoring blog for Texas and I need Texan bloggers to know it is out there. Support the new Texas Revolution.

Posted by: Garemko at April 25, 2005 04:56 PM

People are missing much of this story. Of course, the CHRISTIAN COALITION was used to carry out Ralph Reed's lobbying campaign on behalf of existing Native American tribes, while taking $4 million in tribal money to oppose new resorts by a third tribe, the Jenas. Ralph Reed turned to his existing network of contacts, including Focus on the Family and the Christian Coalition to implement this strategy. The new head of the Christian Coalition loves money and nothing else and would do almost anything for money.

The CHRISTIAN COALITION'S lobbyist, Jim Backlin, is a member of Ed Buckham's church in Frederick, Maryland, and has been in the same church with Ed Buckham for around 20 years (previously they were both in a church together in D.C., now in Frederick, Maryland.) I don't believe Ed Buckham is "the" pastor of the Frederick church, but has been a deacon / elder for years and is now an ordained minister. He is a non-professional minister who does not work at it full-time.

Ed Buckham hired Jim Backln at the Republican Study Committee in the House of Representatives, which was a sort of official conservative think tank within the Congress itself. Jim Backlin has worked directly for Ed Buckham for
about half of the last 20 years, and worked closely with him the rest of the time.

These events were in Louisiana and Alabama. One of the leading religious right figures in Louisiana is the CHRISTAN COALITION'S founding Board member, the Rev. Billy McCormack. It is hard to imagine that Ralph Reed's campaign IN LOUISIANA against the Jena tribe's new resorts did not heavily involve the Jimmy Swaggart of Louisiana, Christian Coalition founding Board member Rev. Billy McCormack.

Posted by: Bob Rodgers at May 6, 2005 05:42 PM

Rev. McCormack responded to my post, and I think everyone should have the benefit of my response:

Dear Rev. McCormack:

Curiously, you responded that you have not been in "correspondence" with Ralph Reed for many years. This sidesteps the issue. But it is also a very curious and slippery non-denial denial in its own right.

"Correspondence" means written letters. Because of your years and distinguished age, and very busy schedule, no one would expect you to sit down and write Ralph Reed a letter -- as opposed to receiving a phone call from him. And this is not the type of thing one would write down in "correspondence." Curiously, you did not deny speaking directly to Ralph Reed on the telephone or through intermediaries or in some other form of communication. You denied only "correspondence" with Ralph Reed.

The leaders of the Christian Coalition are such a slippery bunch, imagining themselves to be clever, that we can never trust what they say. It might be an accidental turn of phrase. But no one talks that way, saying they have not been "in correspondence" unless they are trying to be exceedingly careful in giving a partial but misleading and deceptive denial.

The Christian Coalition and other conservatives -- instead of living up to their ideals -- have learned many lessons from Bill Clinton and adopted Clintonian double-speak. Therefore, in any given example it could be an accident, but we have to watch the Christian Coalition like a hawk to be sure. The trick is to deny only one small part of the issue, or even a straw man that no one ever claimed, and hope that the gullible will be fooled into thinking there was a denial. A favorite trick is like this one from Billy McCormack: Deny something tangential and barely relevant, and then only in a very narrow, qualified way.

However, despite this very curious non-denial denial, all of that is not relevant.

This is a discussion about some very serious allegations that have been made. Our discussion here is that ALL of this should be complelely investigated in every detail, leaving nothing out, without political interference and without the bribery that those who know multi-millionaire Roberta Combs often seem to spontaneously mention without being asked.

The allegations here, which we want investigated, are that Jack Abramoff, Ed Buckham, Michael Scanlon and Ralph Reed -- trading on their connections with Conressional powerhouse Tom Delay -- SCARED Native American tribes in YOUR HOME STATE of Louisiana and Alabama, in order to fleece those tribes out of as much as $82 million. To do this, Ralph Reed admits that he received at least $4 million in gannbling money to run a fake religious organization opposed to gannbling IN YOUR HOME STATE, LOUISIANA, and Alabama. That much Ralph Reed admits. Alabama is where the Christian Coalition has its strongest and most active State chapter.

Of course, Ed Buckham has been a close associate of Jim Backlin, the Christian Coalition's Vice President for lobbying, for more than 20 years. They are in the same church in Frederick, Maryland. When Tom DeLay said once that Ed Buckham was his "pastor," Ed Buckham has his title in the same church that Jim Backlin attends. So we have amazing connections between Ed Buckham and Tom DeLay through the Christian Coalition's Vice President for lobbying Jim Backlin. And then an additional, separate connection between Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition. And a third connection between Michael Scanlon's activities in Louisiana, and the Christian Coalition's longest-running Board member, Rev. Billy McCormack. Sorry, but with that may connections, we'd like to wait for the investigation before we listen to oddly-worded non-denial denials. Billy can tell us what he likes, but we'll wait for the official report.

The scam was that Jack Abramoff both created the scare and then offered to solve the problem by taking as much as $82 million to "save" these Native American tribal resorts from the problem that he (through Ralph Reed) was manufacturing against the tribal resorts. He used Ralph Reed to scare the tribal resorts with the loss of their gannbling revenue (about all the Native Americans have going for them). Then Abramoff and Scanlon promised to use Tom DeLay's influence to save those tribal resorts from getting shut down.

Ralph Reed admits that he enlisted Focus on the Family and James Dobson to put the heat on these tribal resorts and threaten them with closure and the loss of their revenue. Are we really supposed to believe that Ralph Reed enlisted Focus on the Family, but did not work with the Christian Coalition IN YOUR HOME STATE, LOUISIANA, and Alabama - - the strongest State Chapter of the Christian Coalition? That is a lot to swallow. And against this, all we have is your email saying you were not "in correspondence" with Ralph Reed. Sorry, but I would like to wait for a full and honest investigation before making up my mind on that one.

So, the questions that deserve full investigation are: (1) Did the Christian Coalition actually oppose gannbling at tribal resorts, either generally or at Native American tribes, whether nationwide or in Louisiana and/or Alabama? (2) Did Rev. McCormack oppose gannbling in Louisiana? (3) Why did the Christian Coalition shut down its website for 5 days? Was it to delete content shwoing its involvement in campaigning against the tribal resorts? (4) Did Ralph Reed, Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, Ed Buckham, Rep. Ney, Tom DeLay or any of their group ask (in any format by telephone, meeting, whatever) the Christian Coalition to speak out against Native American tribal resorts, particularly in Louisiana or Alabama, by contacting Pat Robertson, Roberta Combs, Jim Backlin, or Billy McCormack? We don't care if Ralph Reed sat down and wrote you a letter. The issue is whether any of the above group attempted to turn the Christian Coalition loose attacking these Native American gannbling interests in any form, through any channel, through any contacts?

Posted by: Bob Rodgers at June 4, 2005 05:12 PM
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