Jack Abramoff & the Religious Right, Cont.
Last week, on the eve of GOP superlobbyist Jack Abramoff's
guilty pleas in a widening federal corruption probe, I summarized the relationship
between Abramoff, several religious right leaders, and Abramoff's lobbying campaign on behalf of eLottery, an internet gambling company. Abramoff funneled eLottery cash to three religious right entitities as part of his campaign to derail the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 2000. A company headed by Ralph Reed
, the founding executive director of the Christian Coalition had received $150,000; The Traditional Values Coalition, headed by Rev. Lou Sheldon
, received $25,000; and Toward Tradition, an Orthodox Jewish foundation based in Seattle and headed by Rabbi Daniel Lapin
, receieved $25,000 each from eLottery. Abramoff was a board member and former board chairman of Toward Tradition.
Now, The Seattle Times reports further details about the role of Toward Tradition in the growing scandal.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin
, who is often aligned with the Christian Right, and, for example, has spoken at national gatherings of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition is opposed to gambling, especially government sponsored gambling like lotteries -- says he didn't know about what Abramoff was up to.
Part of the federal investigation centers on the role of Tony Rudy, once a top aide to then, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX), who worked closely with Abramoff on the bill, and later went to work for Abramoff's lobbying firm. Abramoff arranged for Toward Tradition to hire Rudy's wife, and for eLottery and another client to pay for her consulting gig.
The Seattle Times reports:
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff funneled money through a Mercer Island religious foundation as he tried to influence a top aide to Republican congressional leader Tom DeLay, according to his guilty plea last week to corruption charges.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin confirmed Sunday it was his foundation, Toward Tradition, that took $50,000 from two Abramoff clients and, at Abramoff's suggestion, used it to hire the aide's wife to organize a conference for the group.
Lapin said he and his board had no idea the money was part of Abramoff's vast scheme to influence Congress and, in this case, stop bills to raise postal rates and ban online lotteries...
Lapin, in an interview Sunday and in a memo he sent to board members, said Lisa Rudy, wife of former DeLay aide Tony Rudy, was hired to organize a Washington, D.C., conference for Toward Tradition.
The Times article concludes:
The government's interest in Toward Tradition has apparently focused on the payments to Lisa Rudy.
Lisa Rudy is the wife of Tony Rudy, at the time a senior aide to DeLay, who was then majority whip in Congress. Tony Rudy later went to work as a lobbyist for Abramoff. Toward Tradition's board approved hiring Lisa Rudy in 2000 and soon after Abramoff sent a $25,000 check from a firm called eLottery. It came with instructions that Rudy was to be paid $5,000 a month.... Lapin said other checks came from another Abramoff client, the Magazine Publishers of America. Those checks, too, came with directions to keep paying Rudy.
Abramoff was lobbying for the association and, according to his plea agreement, was trying to stop a bill that would have raised postal rates.... Abramoff's plea agreement says the money was obtained from clients that benefited from the aide's "official actions regarding the legislation on Internet gambling or opposing postal rate increases."
While it is not clear that Toward Tradition did anything illegal; it seems to have served as a funding conduit for activities currently under investigation.
[Crossposted at Political Cortex]