Friday, June 23, 2006

Senate Report Lists Lobbyist's Payments to Ex-Leader of Christian Coalition - New York Times

Yet Ralph Reed's campaign claims this is a vindication for him!: "A bipartisan Senate report released on Thursday documented more than $5.3 million in payments to Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition and a leading Republican Party strategist, from an influence-peddling operation run by the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff on behalf of Indian tribe casinos.

The report by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee portrayed Mr. Reed, now a candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in his home state of Georgia, as a central figure in Mr. Abramoff's lobbying operation, the focus of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

Mr. Reed was depicted as having used his contacts among conservative Christian groups in the South and Southwest beginning in the late 1990's to block the opening or expansion of casinos that might compete with the gambling operations of Mr. Abramoff's clients.

Mr. Abramoff and his former partner, Michael Scanlon, have pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt public officials and bilking some Indian tribe clients out of tens of millions of dollars. They are cooperating with a federal grand-jury investigation that is threatening to derail the careers of several members of Congress.

There has been no suggestion by prosecutors that Mr. Reed is under special scrutiny by the grand jury.

Mr. Reed's name was invoked repeatedly this month at the trial of David H. Safavian, a former White House aide who was convicted of lying to investigators about a 2002 golf trip to Scotland with Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Reed and Representative Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio.

In a statement issued through his campaign office in response to the report, Mr. Reed portrayed the report as a vindication. He said that while 'it is now clear with the benefit of hindsight that this is a piece of business I should have declined,' the report 'confirms that I have not been accused of any wrongdoing.'"


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