Friday, April 22, 2005

A talk with high-profile Abbe Lowell, Esq.- and it all boils down to PR, PR, PR

A Talk with Jack Abramoff's Attorney - BusinessWeek on-line

NEWSMAKER Q & A

A Talk with Jack Abramoff's Attorney Superlawyer Abbe Lowell likes to tackle tough, high-profile cases. He says this one is "like standing in the middle of a tsunami with an umbrella"

[and with John McCain openly hopeful that the Justice Department will indict Jack, that tsunami is getting even bigger by the day]

"Beltway insiders are enthralled with the saga of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose activities involving Indian tribes he represented are the subject of a Justice Dept. task force investigation (see BW Online, 4/22/05, "'Fear and Loathing' Among the GOP"). Abramoff has close ties to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), which adds to the intrigue.

But Abramoff's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has seen it all before. He makes his living coping with scandal. Lowell has defended some of the biggest names in Washington, including Representative Gary Condit (D-Calif.), who balked at cooperating with a police probe of the disappearance and death of an aide. [Marina Ein of Ein Communications worked as Condit's spokeswoman, and her career almost went down in flames on that assignment] He also represented House Democrats who defended Bill Clinton during the 1998-99 impeachment proceedings. Lowell is regarded as a dogged litigator with a reputation for defending clients against enormous odds. Born in New York City borough of the Bronx, he grew up believing that lawyers have an obligation to help balance the power of the individual against the government. He met Abramoff through his charitable work in Washington's Jewish community, where both men are active. Recently, Lowell talked to BusinessWeek's
Lorraine Woellert. Here are edited excerpts from their conversation:

Q: Folks on Capitol Hill are shaking in their boots. Are you scaring people?

A: Why do I have all of them shaking in their boots? Why would people remotely assume that that's remotely helpful to Jack? It's odd that people think that Jack Abramoff would be helped by the deluge of public information.

Q: You're one of a small number of lawyers who function as well in the political arena as you do in the courtroom. In a high-profile case like Abramoff's, how important are the events outside the courtroom?

A: A lawyer's first responsibility is to protect his or her client's legal position. Everything else comes second. There's no victory in winning some PR battle if your client goes to jail. But you have to realize that there's a complex mix between how all those component parts work. What the press says, what the Congress says, what the public thinks does affect the client's legal position sometimes. You try to see if there's a strategy that works on all fronts.

Q: How does a client like Abramoff get a fair hearing in Congress?

A: Congress isn't immune to excess or latching on to the scandal du jour. You can only hope that Congress will do the right thing, and sometimes, in the interests of your client, you have to risk somebody in Congress not liking you as much the day after.

Q: How do you handle the media blitz?

A: Sometimes a matter of public interest -- Jack Abramoff, the impeachment, former Congressman Condit -- gets so overwhelming that you're like that little boy putting his various fingers and toes in the dike. You're able to accomplish little more than that. At some point you sort of give up trying.... The Abramoff case has become like standing in the middle of a tsunami with an umbrella.

Q: In the Abramoff case, you have outside public relations firms helping with damage control. How do you turn the press attention into an advantage?

A: People just have to be absolutely truthful. The press has to know that if you say something they can bank on it. You can't be mesmerized by the press or intimidated or fawning. The most fundamental thing is to be honest.

interesting; check out this bit of e-mail---- (Comments----)

2 comments:

HighViz PR said...

-----Original Message-----
From: highviz, a project company [mailto:abbe@highviz.net]
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2005 9:39 AM
To: 'Jack Abramoff'
Subject: RE: O'Reilly


Jack,



Yes. This may seem ironic now, but yes, I do. The matter of the trips, et al will remain a quagmire - but you did sit down with Lisa Myers and say that a lot of people have been affected, and that was NOT the intent. This was important, and will be something to rebuild from later.



http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7575874/



My theory is in an article that was published in March, and appeared on a couple of websites: http://www.highvizpr.com/damage_control_article . I sent a variation of it to Jon van Horne sometime a while back.



This is post-damage control, but more of a "this is how it is, and there is another side". That your appearance was genuine was helpful. In my opinion it really was.



Just a PR POV,



Thanks!



Abbe B.



-----Original Message-----
From: Jack Abramoff ]
Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 11:37 PM
To: 'highviz, a project company'
Subject: RE: O'Reilly



really? you thought that came off positively?

-----Original Message-----
From: highviz, a project company [mailto:abbe@highviz.net]
Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 8:25 PM
To: 'Jack Abramoff'
Subject: RE: O'Reilly

You were right about O'Reilly. One minute into the conversation and I said no. But the NBC/ Lisa Myers piece was exactly what I had foreseen. You had a chance to show who you are in a good light. Thanks!



HighViz Consulting Group

Abbe Buck, Principal Consultant

Strategic Communications and Public Relations

(703) 753-4100

1-800-380-2825

www.highvizpr.com

www.highvizconsulting.com











-----Original Message-----
From: Jack Abramoff
Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 1:48 PM
To: highviz, a project company
Subject: RE: O'Reilly



thanks. i had a feeling this would not be good. REgards.

-----Original Message-----
From: highviz, a project company [mailto:abbe@highviz.net]
Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 3:13 PM
To: 'Jack Abramoff'
Subject: RE: O'Reilly

Jack,



I think it is a good idea to pass. I do not like the way the producers sound after all.



Thanks!



Abbe B.



HighViz Consulting Group

Abbe Buck, Principal Consultant

Strategic Communications and Public Relations

(703) 753-4100

1-800-380-2825

www.highvizpr.com

www.highvizconsulting.com



WE MUST SUPPORT OUR MILITARY AT ALL TIMES - Visit www.usocares.org to find out how you can help. Thanks from HighViz, a project company



This communication contains data that is legally privileged and confidential. If you are not the intended recipient, any copying, dissemination, or distribution of this communication is strictly prohibited. Thank you from HighViz Consulting Group.









-----Original Message-----
From: Jack Abramoff
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 10:03 AM
To: highviz, a project company
Subject: RE: O'Reilly



thanks.

-----Original Message-----
From: highviz, a project company [mailto:abbe@highviz.net]
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 11:09 AM
To: 'Jack Abramoff'
Subject: RE: O'Reilly

---unless there are assurances of fair questioning and that they are open to speaking with Andrew Blum, I will advise you to pass on this.. I will let you know as soon as I hear back. Thanks!





-----Original Message-----
From: Jack Abramoff
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 9:33 AM
To: highviz, a project company
Subject: RE: O'Reilly



it's been one attack after another. i don't trust any of these guys.

-----Original Message-----
From: highviz, a project company [mailto:abbe@highviz.net]
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 10:49 AM
To: 'Jack Abramoff'
Subject: O'Reilly

Jack,



I spoke with Fox late last night (finally!) A producer is supposed to get back to me today to discuss further. I just want to be sure that you will not be attacked or maligned (any further). Time Magazine was not pretty at all!



Thanks!



Abbe B.

(703) 629-3183 (mobile)

Anonymous said...

http://forward.com/campaignconfidential/index.php


—April 21, 2005—

Chag Kasher V'Sameach

Happy Passover. We won't be posting for a while.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 07:04 PM | Link for this post


Abramoff Speaks to NBC

Nice get, Lisa!

By Lisa Myers & the NBC Investigative Unit
For a decade, Jack Abramoff was one of Washington's super-lobbyists with powerful friends like House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

Now Abramoff is under congressional and criminal investigation, telling a U.S. Senate hearing at one point, “I have no choice but to assert my various constitutional privileges against having to testify.”

The case involves $82 million in lobbying and public relations fees paid to Abramoff and an associate over three years by Indian tribes involved in casino gambling.

"This man promised the world to us, and it was just a big lie, a big lie," says Carlos Hisa, lieutenant governor of the Tigua Tribe.

Abramoff defends actions
Leaders of the Tigua tribe in Texas say they paid $4.2 million after Abramoff promised to help reopen a casino. They say they were later shocked to learn that Abramoff had been working with another tribe to shut down the Tigua casino.

In an exclusive interview with NBC, Abramoff insists that all the tribes were represented fairly and got their money's worth.

“The benefit that we brought to these tribes was far in excess, by multiples of tens and hundreds, of the charges — of the costs of these efforts," says Abramoff.

Abramoff used money from Indian tribes and other clients to entertain and influence members of Congress. And, government sources say, he kept meticulous notes, now in the hands of the FBI, of tickets and golf trips paid for and favors sought.

Tom DeLay is already in hot water. He traveled with Abramoff to Russia in 1997 and to Britain in 2000, playing golf in Scotland at legendary St. Andrews. The total cost of two trips was $127,000.

DeLay says actions proper
Though Delay reported that the National Center for Public Policy Research footed the bills, the conservative group says it paid for the trip but got some contributions from Abramoff's clients.

That matters because ethics rules allow groups like the Center to pay for congressional travel, but not lobbyists.

Still, DeLay insists the trips were "proper" and says he didn’t know, and can't be responsible for knowing, how a trip sponsor "ultimately obtains funding."

Other congressman claim they were misled about who paid for their golf trips. All this makes many lobbyists and politicians uncomfortable.

Abramoff says he's singled out
"They look at what Abramoff did as routine behavior taken to excessive levels,” says political analyst Charles Cook.

Abramoff says he’s being singled out for actions that are commonplace.

"It's been devastating on every level for me,” says Abramoff, “on a financial level, on a social level, on a personal level, on a political level."

Now, a popular Washington parlor game is guessing whether Abramoff will try to save himself by fingering friends.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 05:42 PM | Link for this post


DeLay's Dinner Partner

The following is from a report on antisemitism Tel Aviv University published on the Web in 1998. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay went on a trip to Malaysia and had a 'fancy dinner' with Mahathir in 2001, Time reported:

Datuk Sri Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia, deserves much credit for the impressive economic progress his country has made since he came to office in 1981. Furthermore, the Malaysian leader has made assiduous efforts to create a common Malaysian identity as a constructive solution for the delicate racial situation involving the Malay and the Chinese: although almost equal in size, the latter dominate the economy. In the process of nation building, however, Mahathir has given Malaysia the dubious distinction of being the one nation in Southeast Asia with an anti-Semite at the helm.

The Malaysian leader's anti-Jewish sentiments and expressions are probably due to a combination of his background, personality, life experiences and political expediency. If observed only over the last few months, Mahathir's anti-Semitic statements could be construed as a classic case of an unscrupulous politician using conspiracy scapegoating anti-Semitism momentarily, in order to explain away inconvenient situations resulting from failed policies and the endemic corruption of his nation's political and economic system. However, a closer look at his history leaves one with the impression that the Malaysian politician has consistently displayed racist and anti-Semitic convictions.

The Mahathirs have been in what is today Malaysia for two generations. Earlier this century the family migrated to the then British colony of Malaya from southern India, where the future leader was born in 1925. Though trained as a physician under the British, the personal affronts he suffered at their hands during the colonial era, are said to have generated in him a visceral lifelong hatred for everything British. Mahathir's anti-British hatred extends to whites in general. Thus after the founding of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum) in 1989, he insisted on the establishment of an East Asian Economic Group that would exclude Australia and New Zealand as being "too European," and which was to be led by Japan.

Mahathir's support for the Arab side in the Middle East conflict is no less than absolute. In his book The Malay Dilemma (1970) he is very explicit, as well as habitually wrong about the facts, when he asserts: "In Palestine , the whole country was taken away from the Arabs [by the British] and handed over to the Jews." As Reid has shown, in Mahathir's vocabulary, the word "Jew" [Jahoed/Yahoudi], especially in his Malay speeches, has always been used pejoratively. In a speech at the official opening of a branch of his party in 1981, he stated that "whoever tends to divide the Muslim community of this country is an agent of the Jews." Combating the Jewish "threat" has been firm policy in Malaysia since 1981.

In 1984, Information Minister Datuk Rais Hitam stated to the New Straits Times -- a newspaper owned by the dominant Malay party in the ruling coalition -- that the policy of the Mahathir administration is one of "discouragement of the screening, portrayal, or musical presentation of works of Jewish origin." It was this policy that caused the New York Philharmonic to cancel a concert in Kuala Lumpur in 1986 after the Malaysian government wanted to drop from the program Ernest Bloch's rhapsody Schlomo.

It is well known that the Malaysian National Censor Board in March 1994 banned Schindler's List from the country's cinemas, in accordance with the country's long-standing anti-Semitic cultural policies. Therefore, blaming Malaysia's sudden economic woes in late 1997 on American financier George Soros because of his Jewish descent, and on "the Jews [who] don't like to see Muslims prosper," is consistent with the anti-Semitism of Malaysia's prime minister.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 04:29 PM | Link for this post


John Kerry Writes:

Per an e-mail:

There are moments in our work together when it's important to step back, look each other in the eye, and decide what we need to do next.

This is one of those moments.

The Republican Party's leaders have set America on an extraordinarily dangerous path. We are no longer just debating the merits of one policy over another. It's far more fundamental than that. The far right seems set on a path that challenges the fundamentals of how we make our democracy work best for all of us. I can't literally sit in your living room and talk about what's going on and how we need to rise to the occasion. So, I've chosen the next best thing, recording a video message that I hope each and every member of the johnkerry.com community will take the time to watch.

http://www.johnkerry.com/action/valuesvideo

It's essential for us to come together right now because, every day, Republican leaders are crossing lines that should never be crossed:

The line that says a leader in the House of Representatives should never carelessly threaten or intimidate federal judges.
The line that says a leader in the Senate should never accuse those who disagree with his political tactics of waging a war against people of faith.
The line that says respect for core constitutional principles should never be undermined by a political party's quest for power.
And, most important of all, the line that says a political party's leaders should never let their obsession with amassing power overwhelm the needs and interests of America's families.
The enclosed video message addresses the vitally important moment that our nation has reached. Decisions are about to be made that will shape America's future. I urge you to take a few minutes to watch the video -- and to forward it to your friends. But, most of all, I encourage you to join with the entire johnkerry.com community in committing yourself to acting to give voice to our values in the critical days ahead and holding Republicans in Washington accountable.

http://www.johnkerry.com/action/valuesvideo

Sincerely,

John Kerry

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 03:27 PM | Link for this post


Cardin Is In

Per BaltSun:

Rep. Cardin expected to announce run for U.S. Senate seat
Democratic leaders told he'll make it official soon
By Andrew A. Green
Sun Staff
Originally published April 21, 2005
Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin plans to announce Tuesday that he is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Maryland's Paul S. Sarbanes, several sources said yesterday.

Cardin, 61, a 10-term congressman and former speaker of the House of Delegates, has shied away from runs for higher office before. But the Baltimore-area Democrat has told party leaders of his intention to make a bid to succeed Sarbanes, who announced last month that he will not seek re-election next year. Cardin has e-mailed and telephoned hundreds of supporters and beefed up his campaign staff in preparation for the run, top Democrats said.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 02:57 PM | Link for this post


Sanders for Senate?

Per WaPo. Sanders is a Jewish socialist.

The senator's spokesman had said recently that Jeffords was in good health. He had hired campaign staff and begun raising money for the 2006 race and was favored to win reelection.

A strong contender for the seat is Rep. Bernard Sanders, an Independent who is Vermont's sole representative in the House and a household name throughout the state. Sanders, a man of rumpled appearance, has made clear he would run if Jeffords steps down.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 02:55 PM | Link for this post


Santorum Gets Cold Feet on Nuke Option

More Hill:
Santorum reads nuke polls, applies the brakes
By Alexander Bolton

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a leading advocate of the “nuclear option” to end the Democrats’ filibuster of judicial nominees, is privately arguing for a delay in the face of adverse internal party polls.

Details of the polling numbers remain under wraps, but Santorum and other Senate sources concede that, while a majority of Americans oppose the filibuster, the figures show that most also accept the Democratic message that Republicans are trying to destroy the tradition of debate in the Senate.

The Republicans are keeping the “nuclear” poll numbers secret, whereas they have often in the past been keen to release internal survey results that favor the party. David Winston, head of the Winston Group, which conducts Senate GOP polls, did return phone calls seeking comment.

Confirming public disquiet over the “nuclear” or “constitutional” option, Santorum said, “Our polling shows that.” But, he added, public thinking had been muddied by what he called false Democratic arguments that checks and balances were being eroded.

“People see checks and balances as Democrats checking Republicans, not the legislative checking the executive or the judiciary checking the legislative,” Santorum said. Filibustering presidential nominees was not something the Founding Fathers envisioned as a tool for balancing power between the branches, he argued. In other words, Democrats have managed to convince the public of their right to check Republicans in the Senate.

Santorum’s raising of reasons that Republicans should delay the constitutional option may surprise conservative activists who count him as one of the most passionate advocates for the tactic in the Senate.

“There is no doubt that Santorum was the backbone of this from the very beginning, and he continues to be,” said Manuel Miranda, head of the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters, an alliance of more than 200 conservative groups working on the judges issue.

Many Republicans and conservative activists had thought the Senate GOP leadership would trigger the tactic next week to end the judicial filibuster. The nominees considered most appropriate for such a historic procedural maneuver, Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown, are expected to be discharged from the Judiciary Committee later this week.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 02:50 PM | Link for this post


Emanuel Versus Abramoff

The Hill reports:

Lobbying reform targeted at DeLay, Abramoff issues
By Jonathan E. Kaplan


Democratic Reps. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and Marty Meehan (Mass.) will propose legislation to address issues raised in the investigations into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The proposals, which could be introduced next week, would require lobbyists to say how private groups pay for congressional travel, force lawmakers to disclose their ties to nonprofit groups and double the time that retiring lawmakers and staff would have to wait before lobbying, to two years.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 02:47 PM | Link for this post




—April 20, 2005—

Sing to the Lord a New Song...

Lobbyist Gave DeLay a Skybox for Donors

By SUZANNE GAMBOA
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay treated his political donors to a bird's-eye view of a Three Tenors concert from an arena skybox leased by a lobbyist now under criminal investigation.

DeLay's political action committee did not reimburse lobbyist Jack Abramoff for the May 2000 use of the skybox, instead treating it as a type of donation that didn't have to be disclosed to election regulators at the time.

The skybox donation, valued at thousands of dollars, came three weeks before DeLay also accepted a trip to Europe -- including golf with Abramoff at the world-famous St. Andrews course -- for himself, his wife and aides that was underwritten by some of the lobbyist's clients.

Two months after the concert and trip, DeLay voted against gambling legislation opposed by some of Abramoff's Indian tribe clients.

House ethics rules require lawmakers to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest.

"I would say it deserves closer scrutiny by the ethics committee," said Kathleen Clark, a former congressional lawyer and now a government ethics expert at Washington University in St. Louis.

DeLay was admonished last summer by the ethics committee for creating an appearance of a conflict involving different donors and legislation involving energy,

His defenders say the House leader did nothing wrong in the skybox case. Federal law at the time didn't require DeLay's committee to disclose or reimburse for the skybox gift, they note -- though the law was changed to require such disclosure a few months later.

"Portraying a lack of reimbursement as news is like saying a driver of a car did not hit his brakes while driving through a green light -- there is nothing newsworthy about it, let alone improper," said Don McGahn, one of DeLay's lawyers.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert came to a different conclusion in recent days, reimbursing Abramoff for a political event two years after the fact. One of Hastert's political committees had used a restaurant partly owned by the lobbyist, and the Hastert committee decided recently to reimburse for the use.

Abramoff's relationships with DeLay and other lawmakers are under scrutiny as a federal grand jury investigates the lobbyist's work on behalf of Indian tribes and as new information surfaces about his dealings with members of Congress.

A spokesman for Abramoff said any problems with disclosure belong with the lawmakers. "Whether these contributions were properly reported was the responsibility of the campaigns, not the tribes or Mr. Abramoff," said Andrew Blum.

Dan Allen, a DeLay spokesman, said the May 7, 2000, skybox event rewarded donors to the state arm of the DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority political committee with a special view of a performance in Washington by the Three Tenors -- opera stars Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti.

Allen said DeLay's office couldn't find records of who attended the event five years ago. He said Wednesday that DeLay attended.

He said that his boss shouldn't be held responsible for Abramoff's decision to underwrite the gifts or charge them to clients with business before Congress.

"How Jack Abramoff paid for or billed his clients is not something we had knowledge of or responsibility for," Allen said.

However, Larry Noble, former chief lawyer for the Federal Elections Commission, said of DeLay: "He knows who Abramoff's clients are. You don't have someone who is such a big player in Washington and has power like Tom DeLay and doesn't know where the money is coming from."

House ethics rules prohibit a lawmaker from accepting any gift of $50 or more from special interests or soliciting gifts from anyone with business before the House.

The rules do allow lawmakers to accept food, lodging and transportation to a political event when it is paid for by a political committee, like DeLay's. In this case, the skybox was paid for by a lobbyist and DeLay's committee accepted it as a contribution.

House rules prohibit lawmakers from taking "anything provided by a registered lobbyist or an agent of a foreign principal to an entity that is maintained or controlled by" a House member. DeLay was chairman of Americans for a Republican Majority PAC at the time the group accepted the skybox donation. McGahn, the DeLay lawyer, said that rule doesn't apply to contributions to political committees or campaigns, which lawmakers collect regularly from lobbyists.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 09:33 PM | Link for this post


Ahem...

Jon Stewart: "I gotta tell you here's how wrong I was about this whole thing as far as the pope. I had my money on Lieberman."

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 05:29 PM | Link for this post


Free Matt Cooper!

The T-shirt.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 04:10 PM | Link for this post




—April 19, 2005—

They Must Live in a Different State Than We Do...

...because we live in the Empire State, and we see very little chance of this happening:

AJCongress Calls On New York’s Elected Leaders to Sever Ties With the Independence Party If its Party Head Lenora Fulani Does Not Resign Over Anti-Semitic Comments

April 19, 2005 – New York – The Metropolitan Region of the American Jewish Congress called upon public officers of all political parties to do more than merely distance themselves from statements made by Independence party head Lenora Fulani, but to demand her resignation or withdraw their own affiliations with the party.

In 1995, Fulani stated, that Jews “had to sell their souls to acquire Israel and are required to do the dirtiest work of capitalism - to function as mass murderers of people of color - in order to keep it.” When asked about these comments in a recent television interview, Fulani failed to reject those statements, but explained them further by saying, "What I'm saying is that as a leftist and as a progressive, many people have been concerned about the role of the state of Israel relative to the Palestinian people, the fight…. I've supported a two state solution. … I'm not an anti-Semite. And that quote, in my opinion, isn't anti-Semitic. It's raising issues that I think need to be explored.”

Jeff Wiesenfeld, co-President of the AJCongress Met Region said, “There is no other way to see those comments, but as anti-Semitic. Calling Jews murderers, raising ancient canards of Jews and money, are not issues that need to be explored; they are mainstays of timeless anti-Semitic drivel that has been used by tyrants throughout our history as Jews were wantonly slaughtered.” “Fulani and party leader Fred Newman ought to be thrown out of the party and not given a home, especially one where mainstream public leaders like Senator Charles Schumer, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer or Mayor Michael Bloomberg lend them any bit of credibility,” Wiesenfeld added.

Jack Halpern, co-President of the AJCongress Met Region said, “Israel was born out of the ashes of the Holocaust, a place where Jews could find refuge when no one else wanted them. To say that Jews had to “sell their souls” to build Israel, inadvertently defends the soullessness of the regimes directly responsible for the Holocaust and the soullessness of everyone who turned their backs while it happened.”

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 10:33 PM | Link for this post


Fulani Fracas

This is from Ben Smith's NYObserver blog, The Politicker:

Fulani, and a Pataki Pass
The American Jewish Congress is keeping up the heat on the pols who do business with Lenora Fulani. They're calling on officials to refuse the party's line if Fulani doesn't resign. (They misidentify her as "head" of the Independence Party, which isn't technically true, but never mind.)

We wonder whether Chuck and Eliot will drop the line, taking away the cover they've given Mike; or whether Mike will jump first, leaving his Democratic friends behind.

One line in the press release did catch our eye, from our friend Jeff Wiesenfeld, co-President of the New York arm of the AJCongress.

“Fulani and party leader Fred Newman ought to be thrown out of the party and not given a home, especially one where mainstream public leaders like Senator Charles Schumer, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer or Mayor Michael Bloomberg lend them any bit of credibility."

Hmm. Didn't Wiesenfeld's old boss, one Mr. Pataki, also run on that line?

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 10:21 PM | Link for this post


DeLay Memo

The full text:

Dear Friends and Supporters -

I want to thank all of you for your continued assistance and words of encouragement - your thoughts, prayers, and advice have been of great value to me as we continue to work on furthering the ideals of lowering taxes for all Americans, strengthening our homeland security, winning the war on terror, and moving our country’s economy forward.

It should come as no surprise that following the 2004 election-year attacks on the President that the Democrats, their syndicate of third party organizations (Common Cause, Public Citizen, Move-On, etc.) and the legion of Democrat-friendly press would turn their attention to trying to retake Congress. It is abundantly clear that their fundamental strategy revolves around attacking me and working to tear down Republican leadership.

Many of you have requested a “fact versus fiction briefing document” that can be shared via e-mail or in clubs, organizations, or groups you are affiliated with. It would be quite easy to write an entire book about how Democrats, and many in the press, have chosen to selectively report and strategically ignore many FACTS about me and my work as Congressman for the 22nd District.

Rather than run the laundry list of unfounded attacks, I thought it would be helpful to briefly outline some recent issues and provide you with information that tells the real story. I think when you see the consistent pattern of information that has been largely ignored or unreported it will help you dispel any other unsubstantiated allegations.

I am grateful to you and voters of the 22nd Congressional District for allowing me an opportunity to continue to serve you in Congress. The success we have had in electing other Republicans and passing legislation that is anathema to the 40 years Democrats controlled Congress is the main reason why these attacks are occurring.

As always, I thank you for your support, welcome your advice, and look forward to seeing you soon. Take care and God Bless.

Sincerely

Tom DeLay

WHAT THE PRESS ISN’T TELLING YOU:

Fact versus Fiction: The Left-wing “Case” Against Tom DeLay

Overview:

Tom DeLay Has Never Been Found in Violation of Any Law by Anyone

- Tom DeLay does not stand accused of any violation of any law or rule in any forum and has never been found to have violated any law or rule by anyone.

- The Ethics Committee disposed of all matters but one (deferred at DeLay’s request)without sanction.

- Partisan DA Ronnie Earle has never even contacted Tom DeLay to appear as a witness.

Democrats and their Outside Front Groups are Colluding to Target DeLay

- Democrats have made clear that their only agenda is the politics of personal destruction, and the criminalization of politics.

- They hate Ronald Reagan conservatives like DeLay and they hate that he is an effective leader who succeeds in passing the Republican agenda.

- This demonization of DeLay is not new: in the months leading up to the 2000 general election, the DCCC filed a racketeering lawsuit against DeLay, which was ultimately dismissed with prejudice by a federal judge.

- The Democrats’ plan, and their collusion with Democrat front groups, is well known: “Breaking the ethics truce has been a high priority of good-government groups such as CREW, Public Citizen, Public Campaign, Common Cause, the Campaign Legal Center and Judicial Watch. The groups convened a meeting a month ago where they discussed strategy and divvied up tasks aimed at breaking the truce. For example, Mary Boyle of Common Cause was tasked with researching how the House had policed recent allegations of misconduct. Craig Holman of Public Citizen accepted the challenge of finding a lawmaker to file a complaint against DeLay.” (The Hill, June 15, 2004, p. 1)

- So yet again another Democrat leader and campaign chair have embarked on a similar campaign to demonize DeLay to distract the voters from the fact they have no agenda to offer for America. DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel has announced that he intends to make ethical charges the touchstone of campaigns and would use several high-profile local races to create a national image of corruption in the GOP-controlled House.

The Ethics Committee Did Not Find that Tom DeLay Has Violated Any Rule

“The Bell Complaint”

The Committee dismissed two of the allegations Bell made against DeLay and deferred the third at his request.

- Dismissed Count I (Westar): “The information we obtained indicates that (1) neither Representative DeLay nor anyone acting on his behalf improperly solicited contributions from Westar, and (2) Representative DeLay took no action with regard to Westar that would constitute an impermissible special favor.” (Memo of Chairman Hefley, p. 2).

- Dismissed Count III (DOJ/FAA Contacts on TX Redistricting): “With regard to the (DeLay’s staff’s) contacts with the Justice Department, the information we have obtained indicates that they were not improper. Instead, they consisted of a straightforward inquiry on whether there was any legal basis for DOJ to intervene (in the matter of the absent Texas legislators).” (Memo of Chairman Hefley, p. 37).

- Deferred Count II (TRMPAC) (at DeLay’s request in accordance with Committee Rules when a matter is subject to regulatory or law enforcement review): “(W)hatever Representative DeLay’s role was in the TRMPAC activities challenged in Count II, his participation in those activities, if any, was not related to the discharge of his or her duties as a Member of the House.” (Memo of Chairman Hefley, p. 32).

“The Nick Smith Complaint”

Dismissed: “The issues raised by the conduct of the Majority Leader in this matter are novel in that conduct of this nature and the implications of such conduct have never before been addressed or resolved by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. Indeed, the Majority Leader’s testimony indicates that he did not believe he acted improperly under House rules during his encounter with Representative Nick Smith. In addition, the Investigative Subcommittee believes that the relevant facts related to the Majority Leader’s conduct-described in detail in this Report - already have been fully developed. In the view of the Investigative Subcommittee, these factors mitigate against further investigation and proceedings in this matter.” (Oct. 4, 2004 Report, p. 43).

An “Admonishment” is Not a Sanction

- Members, the media, and outside parties spun the “admonishments” as a formal sanction when it clearly was not any sanction.

- Sanctions can only be levied after Informal Information Gathering, Investigative Subcommittee, Adjudicatory subcommittee, and Sanction Hearing.

- Sanctions include expulsion, censure, reprimand, fine, and denial of rights.

- The Bell complaint was dismissed and never even went to the Investigative stage.

What the Committee DID Say to Tom DeLay: Moderate Your Future Behavior

- The Committee sent him two letters containing informal warnings to be careful in the future for what it admitted were cases of first impression.

- The verb “admonished” was used and is now exploited to mean some sort of sanction.

The Only Person Found by the Committee to Have Violated the Rules was Chris Bell

- The Committee stated that Bell’s “complaint violated Committee Rule 15(a)(4) in a number of respects. Because you personally signed this complaint and transmitted it directly to the Committee under Committee Rule 14(a)(1), you are responsible for the contents of the complaint in their entirety, and thus you are responsible for these violations.” (Nov. 18, 2004 Letter of Hefley, p. 1)

- Bell’s complaint contained inflammatory language and exaggerated charges used for political advantage: “Indeed, it appears there is no purpose for including excessive or inflammatory language or exaggerated charges in a complaint except in an attempt to attract publicity and, hence, a political advantage. This improper political purpose was highlighted in this instance by the various efforts you undertook to promote your complaint publicly, by including such excessive or inflammatory language or exaggerated charges in press releases and other public statements.” (Nov. 18, 2004 Letter of Hefley, p. 1)

- It cannot be ignored that every one of the NINE counts of rules violations found by the Committee was raised by DeLay four months before the matter was disposed of. The actions of Bell, his staff, and a Democrat front group were contemptible of Congress. As the Ethics Committee stated, “it is highly improper, and a basis for the initiation of disciplinary action, for any House Member or staff person to attack the integrity of this Committee or any of its members.” (Nov. 18, 2004 Letter of Hefley, p. 1)

The House Voted to Reform the House Ethics Rules in Fairness to all Members

Changes to the Ethics Rules

- The Chris Bell matter, as well as the Nick Smith matter, exposed serious concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in the ethics process, as well as the lack of adequate due process for subjects of ethics complaints.

- In the Nick Smith matter, several Members, including Reps. DeLay, Miller, Smith, Cunningham, and Dreier, were clearly denied due process and were never notified that they were targets of the investigation.

- The Chris Bell matter further exposed the lack of due process in ethics matters, and further revealed how outside parties could insert themselves in the House’s peer review system and exploit it for political purposes.

- The reformed rules allowed for Members to choose their own counsel, instill due process for Members (by allowing Members to publicly plead their case), and to restore the presumption of innocence by requiring a majority vote to open an investigation.

Changes to the Conference Rule Were Not Driven by Tom DeLay, but Tom DeLay did Personally Make the Request to Reinstate the Old Rule

- The Conference Rule was changed last Congress in fairness to the Members who become the political targets of partisan prosecutors and Democrat-front groups. Democrats, be they Ronnie Earle or Chris Bell, should not determine who leads House Republicans.

- Tom DeLay asked the Conference to reinstate the old rule at the beginning of this Congress after he felt the Democrats - who have never had any rule - were exploiting the reform for political purposes. DeLay said that while he saw the merit in the rule changed, he did not want the Democrats to use it as a distraction from the Republican agenda.

Changes to the Make Up of the Ethics Committee Were in the Normal Course of House Business

- Chairman Hefley was not “sacked” by leadership. Hefley was term limited and would have needed a waiver from the Speaker to remain as Chairman, which is rarely done.

- “GOP aides explained that Hefley had reached his term limit on the committee. Hastert can grant waivers at his discretion – as he did for Rules Chairman Dreier – but opted against it. ‘The speaker said that two terms is more than any one member should have to serve on that committee,’ said a GOP leadership aide. Hefley has served on the committee since 1997…” (Susan Davis, “Hastings Replaces Hefley At Ethics As GOP Restocks Panel,” CongressDaily, February 2, 2005)

- The new Chairman, Doc Hastings, was the next senior Member in line for the gavel.

- The Democrats refuse to let the Committee meet because they are still trying to politicize the ethics process and block the Committee from doing its work.

The Texas Matters Are About Politics, Not DeLay

Texas Indictments: A Political D.A.’s Attempt to Criminalize Politics

- The Austin District Attorney, Ronnie Earle, is a partisan Democrat who tries to undo with a grand jury what he can’t stop at the ballot box. Under a peculiar Texas law, he has statewide jurisdiction over election law issues.

- The indictment of three TRMPAC figures and eight corporate donors was a political dirty trick sprung 40 days before an election.

- Since the 2002 elections, Earle has gone after people and entities he determined were involved in helping Republicans win elections in Texas.

- Earle has a history of targeting political enemies including Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, whose case was dropped due to a lack of evidence. Texas has only recently become a Republican state, so Earle’s claim that he prosecuted Democrats too is a red herring.

- The indictments are based on an extreme interpretation of a highly ambiguous law being misused by 1) a highly partisan prosecutor; 2) who is soon to be on his fifth grand jury; 3) in this two-year investigative payback for Republicans winning in Texas.

- Earle’s investigation is about whether the Texas Election Code was violated through corporate fundraising. But Texas law allows corporate money to be raised for indirect political activity (as opposed to donations to candidates), which is what TRMPAC did.

The Texas Civil Trials are “Sour Grape” Attempts by Failed Candidates to Get Rich Quick and Use the Legal System to Undue the Will of the People.

- The New York Times wrote, “The trial testimony has not tied Mr. DeLay to any illegality or suggested that he was involved in the details of the fund-raising efforts by the political action committee.” (Phil Shenon, “Testimony at Texas Trial Focuses on Use of Donations,” New York Times, March 3, 2005)

- The Washington Post wrote, “…during a related civil trial in Austin last week, DeLay’s name repeatedly came up, but no evidence was presented that the veteran GOP leader had done anything wrong. Certainly there was little said in testimony during last week’s civil trial that could harm him… The trial opened Monday with DeLay’s name front and center. But by the close of the trial on Friday, the testimony presented showed DeLay’s direct role in TRMPAC’s successful bid to win the Republican takeover of the Texas House was mostly that of a figurehead and a casual adviser early on.” (Mike Allen and Sylvia Moreno, “Prosecutor Balks When Asked If DeLay Is Target of Texas Probe,” Washington Post, March 6, 2005)

No Member Should be Responsible for Deceptive Behavior by Outside Organizations

The trip DeLay to Russia in 1997 and the United Kingdom in 2000 were proper.

- The National Center for Public Policy Research funded an educational trip in to the United Kingdom to meet with Conservative leaders in England and Scotland.

- The Center invited DeLay on these trips, organized them, paid for them, and reported the costs to him (which he reported on both his 30 day travel disclosures and his Annual Financial Disclosures).

- During the Russia trip, he met with religious leaders and government officials. During the UK trip, he met with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the trade minister, the U.S. Ambassador, and members of the Scottish Conservative Caucus.

- If the sponsor of a trip ultimately obtains funding for a trip, a Member is not and should not be responsible for that information.

The trip DeLay took to Korea in 2001 was properly vetted and undertaken.

- DeLay and two other Members were invited in 2001 to Korea by a charity.

- At the time the invitation was extended, KORUSEC was not registered as a foreign agent. Two days before the trip, the group registered as a foreign agent but did not notify DeLay or any other Member of Congress.

- Since 2001, numerous Members on both sides of the aisle have taken similar trips sponsored by KORUSEC, including a staffer for Nancy Pelosi.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 08:32 PM | Link for this post


Political Appointees to Holocaust Memorial Council

From the RJC Web site:

The White House

RJC members appointed to US Holocaust Memorial Council

The RJC is pleased to note that several members and friends of the RJC have been named by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.
Among them are:

Bruce Lawrence Bialosky, of California
Marilyn R. Fox, of Missouri
JoAnne Ginsberg, of the District of Columbia
Edward Koch, of New York
Michael I. Lebovitz, of Tennessee
Steven M. Levy, of Connecticut

Congratulations to them all.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 08:10 PM | Link for this post


Drudge: 'I'm Not Gay'

Per UK Times:

“So are you a gay right-wing Republican?” I ask.

“No, I’m not gay. I was nearly married a few years ago. And no, I’m not a right-wing Republican,” he replies without batting an eye. “I’m a conservative and want to pay less taxes. And I did vote Republican at the last election. But I’m more of a populist.”

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 08:08 PM | Link for this post


Hastert's Unpaid Lunch Bill

Hey guys, there's no such thing as a free lunch!
Per BusWeek:

Denny Hastert's Late Payment
A Long Delay In Paying For A Fund-Raiser At An Eatery Owned By Scandal-Plagued Jack Abramoff Could Prove Embarrassing To A GOP Mr. Clean

Signatures restaurant, the expense-account haven owned by super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has hosted at least 60 GOP fund-raisers since it opened on Washington's Pennsylvania Ave. NW in early 2002. But the June 3, 2003, lunchtime gathering was special: The guest of honor was House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and the event was a relatively intimate gathering dominated by lobbyists from Greenberg Traurig, the law and lobbying firm where Abramoff then worked.

The problem? Nobody paid for the lunch -- or reported it in disclosure documents as an in-kind contribution -- as federal election law requires, BusinessWeek Online has learned. The tab -- which Hastert's office would not disclose -- was paid only this month, around the time that BusinessWeek Online began to investigate fund-raisers for Republican politicos held at Signatures. Hastert's office says his staffers uncovered the oversight.

Capitol Hill Republicans are sweating over fallout from their relationships with Abramoff. The lobbyist is under investigation by two Senate committees and a criminal task force involving the Justice Dept. and the IRS for allegedly defrauding his clients -- Indian tribes flush with casino cash -- out of millions of dollars.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 02:35 PM | Link for this post


Says Begala, in a letter on behalf of the DSCC:

This time they've gone too far.

The Republicans are injecting religion into the battle over President Bush's effort to pack the federal courts with right-wing rejects.

A few weeks ago, they all but encouraged violence against judges who did not rule in their favor. Last Monday, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson compared the Supreme Court to the KKK. Now, Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist has agreed to appear alongside these ultra-right wing crackpots in a one-hour special telecast that claims Democrats are using judicial filibusters "against people of faith."

What, praytell, does that make the 205 judges we have confirmed? Heathens?

This isn't about religion. Lord knows we progressives--from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Jimmy Carter--look to divine inspiration. We revere and respect people of faith. But we will not tolerate a phony holy war designed to pack the courts with judges who want to turn the clock back to the 1930's.

So if this isn't about religion, what is it about? Ten well-heeled lawyers.

That's right. The Republicans want to shut down the entire United States Senate because of ten right-wing lawyers. Each one of them, of course, is a right-wing activist--with legal and political views three steps to the right of Atilla the Hun.

If you're as outraged as I am, join millions of Americans across the country rallying around this grassroots effort to stop Senator Frist from exploiting his office for political gain. Sign the DSCC petition today and pass this email to all of your friends.

It's one thing for conservative activists to employ incendiary rhetoric. But for the Senate Republican Leader to support these divisive tactics is not only irresponsible--it's a down-right abuse of power.

Dubbed "Justice Sunday," the April 24 program will be telecast to over 1 million people. Senator Frist and his well-funded allies will make the case that 10 wealthy Bush nominees are somehow victims of religious discrimination. Advertisements promoting the telecast depict a young man with a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other under the heading: "the filibuster against people of faith." As if.

Stand up to these dishonest and despicable Republican tactics by signing the DSCC petition today. Don't forget to pass on this message to your friends and family. We only have 6 days to act.

This April 24 telecast is part of a larger Republican campaign to eliminate the filibuster and impose their political will on the American people with no debate or discourse. They want a special set of rules for themselves that ignores our history, our Constitution and our Founding Fathers' principles for our democracy. Above all, they seek to drown out our voice in the process.


Make your voice heard against these powerful Republican allies. Get everyone you know to sign the DSCC petition today and urge Senator Bill Frist to play by the rules and stop politicizing faith for personal gain.
Republicans are pulling the religion card to hide the real interests these 10 Bush nominees represent: big corporations and polluters who couldn't care less about consumers, workers, children, women, families and the environment. When I was an adviser to President Clinton, Republican Senators blocked over 60 nominees to the bench--that's 6 times more than the 10 nominees Democrats are standing up to right now. The Senate has already approved 205 Bush nominees to the federal court. But that's clearly not enough for this extreme Republican agenda.

On top of controlling the presidency and both houses of Congress, Republicans want total control over our judiciary. They want to eliminate the filibuster and change the rules of the game, change the centuries-old principles our Constitution was founded on and take away our voice for their narrow, short-term interests. They're waging an all-out assault on our system of checks and balances and we need your help to stop them.

Democratic Senators are fighting to protect the balance of powers and they're standing up to the 10 Bush nominees whose records prove they are not fit to serve lifetime appointments on the federal bench. Will you stand with me and millions of other Americans to protect our democracy?

Please forward this important message calling on Senator Frist to abandon incendiary tactics that politicize faith, abuse power and undermine our fundamental vision for democracy.

We have 6 days to act before Senator Frist takes the stage with the powerful few on "Justice Sunday." You and I know who they really represent. Let's sound the alarm now before they drown out our voice for good.

Sincerely,

Paul Begala

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 04:50 PM | Link for this post


Cornyn Denies Ties to Abramoff...

...despite the fact that he's cited repeatedly in Jack's e-mail. Per Star Telegram.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 02:51 PM | Link for this post


Dole To DeLay: Come Clean

Per NYDN.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 02:49 PM | Link for this post


More on Jack Mahathir Business

Per WaPo:

During the same period as the Heritage-funded Malaysia trip, Jack Abramoff, a former Republican lobbying powerhouse who was close to DeLay and to Alexander Strategy Group lobbyists, was indirectly paid by the government of Malaysia, according to documents and accounts from two former Abramoff associates.

The funds were paid to Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff's former law firm, through an advocacy group set up by Michael Scanlon, a former DeLay aide who did public affairs work with Indian tribes who were Abramoff's lobbying clients.

Abramoff's lobbying for Indian tribes is now the subject of investigations by the Justice Department and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Greenberg Traurig received $1.2 million from the American International Center, the Rehoboth Beach think tank Scanlon has said he set up.

Tribes represented by Abramoff have said he directed them to make payments to AIC, and the Indian Affairs Committee last fall released a check it had uncovered showing that the Embassy of Malaysia gave AIC a check for $300,000 dated March 6, 2002.

The two former Abramoff associates, who did not want to be identified because of the ongoing investigations, said that AIC was a front created in part to hide Abramoff's representation of Malaysia. Neither Abramoff nor his firm registered as a foreign agent.

Andrew Blum, a spokesman for Abramoff's legal team, said yesterday he would have no comment on AIC or the money from Malaysia.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 02:45 PM | Link for this post


Abramoff Flacked for Mahathir

Claims Time magazine. Mahathir is a noted antisemite:

On Aug. 30, 2001, then majority whip Tom DeLay, his wife, his staff and two Florida Republican House members arrived in Malaysia on what was billed as an educational trip. After a day of informal meetings and a fancy dinner given by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur, they decamped to the Datai Hotel, whose promotional material describes it as located on "a mystical island of wild scenic beauty."
Says Heritage Foundation president Edwin Feulner, whose organization was the official sponsor of the trip: "I sat by the pool while they played golf."

But who really paid for the Malaysia trip? A Heritage senior fellow who was on the trip tells TIME that it wasn't Heritage. He says that Belle Haven Consultants, a for-profit, Hong Kong-based firm linked to the Malaysian government, played a key role. "Heritage had nothing to do with it," says the senior fellow, former Wyoming Senator Malcolm Wallop. "Belle Haven did." It would be a violation of House ethics rules if a group other than the official sponsor paid for a trip for a member of Congress. DeLay's spokesman Dan Allen insists, "Heritage sponsored, organized and paid for the trip," and Heritage spokeswoman Khristine Bershers said documentary proof exists in storage but was not immediately available.

At the time, Mahathir was trying to mend relations with Washington, poisoned by the jailing of his deputy and rival Anwar Ibrahim, and had hired a flock of high-powered lobbyists. Among those was Jack Abramoff, who attended the dinner thrown for DeLay. Abramoff had not registered his work for Malaysia either as a foreign agent or under the lobbying disclosure rules of Congress. But sources close to the matter tell TIME that he handled the Malaysia account for Greenberg Traurig throughout that summer, and contact with members of Congress on the trip could have required him to register. Abramoff's spokesman declined to comment.

Belle Haven is now registered as acting on behalf of Malaysia, and public documents filed shortly after the DeLay trip indicate that it was controlled in part by a company created by an ally of Mahathir's.

Belle Haven's president, Ken Sheffer, is a paid consultant for Heritage, and was described by the foundation's spokesman as its "international man of mystery." Sheffer, who was also on the trip, did not return calls for comment. A Hill source tells TIME that the Senate Finance Committee is looking into the possible use of charities to end-run ethics rules.

Posted by E. J. Kessler, 02:40 PM | Link for this post