And yet more Abramoff/dominionist links
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Sun Jan 15, 2006 at 09:40:37 PM EST
So far, Abramoff (the lobbyist at the center of a growing scandal that has already claimed two legislators known to be friendly to dominionist causes) has been linked to dominionists directly in the ongoing funding scandals in at least four separate posts on Talk2Action:

Abrahamoff Scandal is Albatross for Ralph Reed
More on Abramoff and the Religious Right
Abramoff and the Religious Right, Continued
Religious Right Leaders Implicated in Widening DC Corruption Probe

There are now indications the links with Abramoff and dominionist groups go even deeper--including an actual money laundering scam.

Z-Net, a blog which reports on issues relevant to the feminist and LGBT community, has reposted the following article from DIRELAND which has links to multiple articles (including from MSNBC conservative columnist Tucker Carlson (no relation to Fred Carlson on this site), SFGate,  Media Transparency Project, and the Washington Post that drastically expand the number of dominionist groups that could be definitively linked to the Abramoff scandal.

The first group mentioned as being linked is the Traditional Values Coalition, which references the SFGate and MSNBC articles (and noted in the third Talk2Action article):

Abramoff did more than hire anti-gay luminaries as Rev. Lou Sheldon (head of the Traditional Values Coalition) and Ralph Reed (former head of the Christian Coalition) with money from Abramoff's clients and front groups to lobby for special interests. Abramoff also funded an anti-gay group close to the lobbyist's best buddy and biggest water-carrier, Rep. Tom Delay -- the U.S. Family Network -- with laundered money that has been traced to Russian oil interests.

Let's start with Rev. Sheldon. He's such a professional anti-gay wacko that even conservative pundit Tucker Carlson has denounced him for it. In <span style="text-decoration: none;">a Jan. 4  column Carlson wrote for MSNBC's website, Carlson recounted an interview he had with Sheldon, who told him, "You want to know what the single biggest problem facing inner-city black neighborhoods is? Homosexuality."

Carlson's reaction: "Homosexuality was the biggest problem in the inner cities? Bigger than crime? And unemployment? And poverty? And broken families? And AIDS?... Nope, there was no way around it. What the Reverend Lou had said was bizarre. And creepy too."

Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition received at least $25,000 from an Abramoff client, eLottery -- an online lottery company -- as part of the $2 million the company spent to <span style="text-decoration: none;">defeat an anti-gambling bill.  (The Washington Post reported that Abramoff referred to Sheldon as "Lucky Louie.") What makes this all the juicier is that the Traditional Values Coalition has long proclaimed its hostility to gambling and crusaded against it. Thus, while Sheldon was proclaiming that it was the "homosexual agenda [which] is destroying America's moral fibre," he was secretly on the take from gambling interests whose usurious gouging he opposed in public. This sort of blatant hypocrisy scandalized even a bona-fide right-wing frother like Carlson, who wrote in his column that Sheldon was a "weirdo and charlatan" for preaching gay-hating morality while pocketing Abramoff's corrupt cash.


Yes, more evidence showing that the Traditional Values Coalition was actively on the take, and (ironically) from gambling concerns re antigambling bills he was trying to support.

He's far from the only one, though.

Next mentioned in the article is Ralph Reed.  Reed's role has probably been the best publicised of all the dominionist figures connected to the Abramoff scandal, but there is some info of note:

Ralph Reed, as head of the Christian Coalition from 1989-1997, has been widely credited for the "Republican Revolution" -- the 1994 election victory that gave the GOP control of the House for the first time in five decades. How did Reed do it? He mobilized Christian right voters with an anti-gay sleaze campaign linking Democratic members of Congress to wanting gays in the military -- a hot issue that year. Christian Coalition Congressional "scorecards" for voters massively distributed in every election cycle regularly targeted votes by Democrats for gay civil rights legislation to defeat them -- another Reed invention.

E-mails released by federal investigators in June of last year show that Reed "secretly accepted payments," as the Washington Post put it, to lobby against approval of some Indian casino gambling competitive with the casinos owned by Abramoff's now-famous Indian gambling clients. Abramoff also recruited Reed to join Sheldon in lobbying for eLottery -- on whose behalf Reed also lobbied against an Alabama education lottery. Reed, who became chairman of the Georgia Republican Party four years ago by making himself the spokesman of those who wanted to keep the Confederate flag flying on state buildings, is now running for lieutenant governor of the Peach State -- where the newspapers and Reed's opponents are having a field day exposing the sordid hypocrisy of "family values" crusader Reed's secret links with Abramoff.


A bit of backgrounder--the Christian Coalition was originally founded by Pat "God Done Smote Ariel Sharon" Robertson after two failed presidential bids in 1984 and 1988 respectively.  Reed was enlisted to help out, and he did--rather spectacularly (and to the detriment of the Republican party).  Reed, among others, was the first to promote the same tactics used in "stealth evangelism" to infiltrate the Republican party--having people running for low-level offices to work themselves up in the party hierarchy, not revealing they were dominionists until there was a "critical mass" of fellow dominionists.  Theocracy Watch has a excellent overview of just how this was accomplished; in many cases, dominionists successfully ran non-dominionists out of state GOP conventions altogether, notably in Texas (whose state GOP convention has now gone so hardline "Christian Nationalist" that they are now passing official state party platforms embracing facets of Christian Reconstructionism).

The next player is probably less familiar to those fighting dominionism per se, and more familiar to those monitoring the "tax protester" movement and similar movements within militia and "patriot" communities.  Grover Nordquist is rather a darling in the "tax protester" movement, and is head of a group called Americans for Tax Reform; in some ways, Nordquist has been the main suit-and-tie link between dominionists and the tax-protester movement in general.

Nordquist is, notably, the major architect of the "Starve the Beast" policy--to cut down funding of essential government services to the point of making those services ineffective; the dominionists like this, because it would allow them to essentially make people "convert or starve" by forcing them into "faith-based" programs.  A literal quote from Nordquist is ""I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Norquist has a rather long history of association with dominionists, and is pretty sympathetic to dominionist causes himself; among other things, he is a member of the Council for National Policy and is pretty consistently mentioned in association with Ralph Reed in regards to the Gang of Five; even more disturbingly, Norquist has been noted  as a member of an extremely secretive group called "The Fellowship" which is a group of dominionist lobbyists and politicians; quite a few infamous names in dominionism (including quite a few Assemblies of God members--Gen. Boykin (now implicated as instituting torture policies at both Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib), John Ashcroft, Chuck Colson (Prison Ministries--one of the chief promoters of "faith based coercion" in prisons), etc.) are members--as are, notably, Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, and Reagan-era Attorney-General Ed Meese.  (In fact, the Fellowship is explicitly premillenial dispensationalist and even may have been the origin of the "Russia is the home of the Antichrist" claims; per the above article, the group declared itself in a "worldwide spiritual offensive" against the USSR and communism in general as early as 1955, and may have even actively collaborated with Nazis after World War II in the reconstruction of Germany.  As early as the 1930's it was using "National Prayer Breakfasts" to champion a dominionist agenda.)  Members of the Fellowship have several properties, including a converted Motel 6 and a C Street townhouse (for legislators, with a token rent of $50 monthly), and are known as the "pod people" by their neighbours per investigative reports.

Norquist, notably, also has ties to the militia movement (via the "tax protester" movement) and in fact funneled money to UNITA in Angola (at that time, under international sanctions) and was required to register as an agent of UNITA by the US government.  Norquist has also been at the center of multiple scandals regarding funneling of money to and/or from politicians.

And, well, surprise-surprise, he's also tied in with the Abramoff scandal:

Grover Norquist has been dubbed "The Lenin of the Right." As head of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) -- a hard-right lobbying group -- Norquist convenes and presides over weekly meeting of the leaders of more than a hundred conservative organizations. It was at these meetings that the successful anti-gay strategy targeting gay marriage as the Republicans 2004 key to election victory was hatched and refined. Norquist allowed Abramoff to <span style="text-decoration: none;">launder money through ATR to help an Abramoff client -- which wanted to sell state lottery tickets online -- whip up opposition to an anti-gambling bill that would have put Abramoff's client out of business.

(Yes, this is just one of the multiple laundering schemes--both in regards to Abramoff, and in regards to Norquist's history regarding use of Americans for Tax Reform as a laundering front.)

I'd mentioned Tom DeLay in regards to his involvement in the Family, a dominionist group potentially even more secretive than even the Council for National Policy or the Arlington Group.  As it turns out, he himself is also quite involved in that one of his staff members set up an actual firm for the sole purpose of laundering money (this is much of why the state of Texas is investigating him, by the way):

But the most bizarre and Byzantine Abramoff scam was the laundromat called the U.S. Family Network, established in 1996 by DeLay's former chief of staff, Edwin Buckham. The group, which promoted DeLay's economic and family values agenda, spent money on radio ads that targeted Democratic members of Congress for their alleged fealty to "the homosexual agenda." In 2004, the Network was found by the Federal Elections Commission to have illegally accepted $500,000 from the National Republican Congressional Committee (the House GOP's campaign arm, controlled by DeLay).

In a lengthy piece of Pulitzer-quality investigative reporting on December 31 (little-noticed because it ran on a Saturday, which was New Year's Eve day to boot), the Washington Post's <span style="text-decoration: none;">Jeff Smith exposed how Abramoff arranged funding for the U.S. Family Network, routed through London lawyers, from Russian energy executives who got DeLay to support Congressional funding for an International Monetary Fund bailout of the Russian economy. These Russian oiligarchs forked over a cool $1 million for the Network. Buckman, the U.S. Family Network's guru, put DeLay's wife on the payroll of his consulting firm -- for what the Post paints as a no-show job.

Other corporate interests with little stake in the "family values" agenda also lavished money on the U.S. Family Network -- like the $500,000 from textile companies headquartered in the Mariana Islands, who wanted -- and got -- DeLay's public commitment to block legislation that would boost their labor costs. Or the $250,000 from Abramoff's biggest client, the Choctaw Indians, who got Delay's help in blocking legislation that would have taxed their casino profits.


(Yes, this DOES almost like a play in Steve Jackson's "Illuminati" card game.  "The Dominionists, using the Russian Oil Companies in conjunction with the London Bankers, the Moral Minority, Slave Labor Corporations, and Indian Gaming are going to take over the US Congress.")

Needless to say, the discovery that DeLay's front company is tied to the Abramoff scandal won't help him legally.  At all.  It's already cost him the Speaker of the House position.  And the same fellow who's presently investigating similar money laundering charges with DeLay's state legislature runs is now asking for the Abramoff records too.  This is also, of note, not the first time the US Family Network has been investigated as a money laundering front; the Democratic National Committee tried as early as 1998 to get investigations launched into the matter, filing complaints under RICO statutes.  US Family Network actually has a long history of support of dominionist causes, including an attempt to amend the Constitution to allow sectarian prayers on public property including teacher-led sectarian prayers in classrooms and the Republican National Committee was documented as early as 1999 as funneling money to US Family Network and the National Right to Life Committee.

The last one also isn't all that familiar to people not monitoring Christian Zionist movements in particular, but Rabbi Lapin is a "friendly" Jewish source that dominionists often trot out to support their agendas (including, most recently, demonising the Anti-Defamation League and Reform Judaism groups for condemnations of dominionism).  Lapin can rightly be termed a major apologist for dominionists; this Washington Post article details how--interestingly--both Lapin and Abramoff have been very close to dominionists  to the point of explicitly denigrating non-Orthodox Jews (including a slam at the head of the ADL because the latter protested possible antisemitism in the movie "Passion of the Christ"--both Mel Gibson and, especially, his father are members of an "Old Catholic" group that is antisemitic and Gibson's father has publically denied the Holocaust, so there was reason for concern) and even explicitly defending Adolf Hitler in one article (claiming he was right that Jewish media was "trash" in "Mein Kampf").

"Toward Tradition", the group Lapin runs, is blatantly dominionist-apologist (the page itself promotes a Judaised version of dominionism, and most of the articles are to the effect that the Jewish people should really play nice and kiss the butt of the dominionists, up to and including promoting holidays not even celebrated in Judaism (unless one is a "Messianic" Jew) because "Happy Holidays" is somehow "promoting secularism".  Not only that, but he has explicitly claimed the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina was "God's doing" and the result of "people not taking dominion" (so yes, he's a dominionist in the traditional sense too).  The group explicitly runs a dominionist-apologist group "defending Christians against false claims of antisemitism"; it's also tied with the main group promoting relations between dominionists and the Jewish community (the American Alliance of Christians and Jews) which has quite a number of "messianic Jews" involved.  

The links page for "Toward Tradition" is telling as well--practically every group listed is a dominionist group, including (notably) the Family Research Council (which has known links to "white citizen's councils" and the Ku Klux Klan--both of which have been historically antisemitic) and several dominionist-operated groups that claim dominionists are being "discriminated" against (such as the "National Alliance Against Christian Discrimination", which promotes the idea that if dominionists are not allowed to set up a theocracy we are somehow "discriminating" against them).  Also, multiple groups that promote "Messianic Judaism" aka "kosher pentecostals" (seeing as practically all "Messianic" groups outside of Jews for Jesus--over fifty percent in total--are "missionary outreaches" or "missionary synagogues" of Assemblies of God churches, I do feel justified in my notation here).  This is actually sort of bizarre, seeing as he's a) Orthodox and b) has condemned "Messianic" Judaism as not being Jewish per se, but one expects he's paying more attention to kissing up to dominionists.

He also is, notably, involved in the Abramoff scandal--which is probably not surprising, based on his relationship to Abramoff:

Rabbi Daniel Lapin is the Christian right's favorite rabbi, a frequent speaker at its gatherings, an close friend of Ralph Reed, Karl Rove -- and Jack Abramoff. Rabbi Lapin's 1999 book, "America's Real War," is a Pat-Buchanan-like diatribe about the "culture wars" in America that is dripping with homophobia and targets gays. And Lapin, an Orthodox Jew who moved here from South Africa in the '80s, has been a key figure in mobilizing opposition to gay marriage within the Jewish religious community through his organization, Toward Tradition (TT).

Lapin's TT received $25,000 from Abramoff and $50,000 from two Abramoff clients, including eLottery. TT then hired the wife of then-DeLay deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy -- a major Abramoff scandal figure named in Abramoff's guilty plea -- after receiving written instructions from Abramoff (along with e-Lottery's check) to put Mrs. Rudy on the payroll at $5,000 a month.

As the investigation continues, don't be entirely surprised if more links to the dominionist movement and Abramoff turn up.  This could be big, folks--hold on to your hats.




Display:
the name is Clarkson, not Carlson.

But yes, as far as I know, no relation.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Jan 15, 2006 at 10:21:49 PM EST

My apologies on that, didn't mean to munge your name there :P  (Have I ever mentioned I am horrid with names? :P)  

Anyhoo...waits for more info on a story that may be breaking in the NY Times regarding investigation of two dominionist churches for violations of tax exempt status; if one of 'em isn't World Harvest near Columbus, I'll eat my hat

by dogemperor on Sun Jan 15, 2006 at 10:31:05 PM EST
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