Are the winds shifting against Ralph Reed? The Washington Post looks at the Abramoff scandal and says this
Material released yesterday also appeared to undermine assertions by former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed, now a candidate for Georgia lieutenant governor.
Reed has acknowledged receiving $4 million from Abramoff and Scanlon to run anti-gambling campaigns in the South. Reed has said he did not know where the funds were coming from, but e-mails suggest that he was aware that some of the money he was getting came from the casino-rich Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
Let me just say this — if Ralph Reed used casino money to stop the building of other casinos or to prevent the spread of gambling, he’s got my congratulations. Regardless of where he got the money, he stopped the spread of something I view as a root cause of much bankruptcy, family trouble, addiction, and crime. But, if Reed then lied about his knowledge of where money came from, that makes him dishonest and causes all sort of problems.
Let me also say that it is not just me. I know lots of people, both those who like Reed and those who dislike Reed. The general consensus is that the details of the Abramoff transactions are too cumbersome for people to (A) care about and (B) understand. But, everyone can understand if someone lied
The details are still to be fully revealed, but the wind does appear to be slowly shifting. Reed’s explanation is:
sked about the e-mails released yesterday, Reed reiterated in an interview that the money he received for his anti-gambling activities did not come from gambling proceeds. He said that he has always acknowledged receiving money from the Choctaws but asked the tribe to assure him that the funds sent to him would not come from the casino.
“The assurance I sought was that the money did not come from gambling activity,” Reed said. “And that assurance was honored.”
In September, however, Reed’s office provided a different explanation. “We knew that Greenberg Traurig was recruiting coalition members [for the anti-gambling effort] and raising funds as well, but we had no direct knowledge of their clients or interests,” the office said in a statement. “At no time were we retained by nor did we represent any casino or casino company.”
E-mails released yesterday indicated that Reed did know the name of the client. OnApril 4, 1999, Abramoff told Reed to put together a cost plan for the campaign, “including a total budget figure with category breakdowns.” He added: “Once I get this I will call Nell at Choctaw and get it approved.”
In subsequent e-mails, Abramoff and Reed discuss how Reed would be reimbursed by the Choctaws through Abramoff’s firm, and Americans for Tax Reform, a group founded by conservative activist Grover Norquist.
Yesterday, Reed’s office said his comments yesterday and the September statement were not inconsistent.
The “Nell” referred to in the April 4 e-mail is Nell Rogers, who had been the Choctaws’ main contact with Abramoff. Called to testify yesterday, she told the committee the tribe knew that Abramoff and Scanlon were using “intermediaries” such as the American International Center to pay for the anti-gambling campaigns.
“I am sure there probably were concerns — or public perception concerns — about some of the recipients, about not being associated with a tribe or with a gaming tribe,” she said.