A June 25 article about the Senate Indian Affairs Committee report on the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal paraphrased the report as saying the Justice Department should further investigate a nonprofit group's dealings with the Interior Department and its former deputy secretary, J. Steven Griles. The sentence in the report containing the committee's recommendation did not mention the Justice Department or name Griles. The committee said that "additional inquiry" by "appropriate authorities appears warranted" into the "veracity" of testimony from Italia Federici, the head of the nonprofit group. Her testimony included discussions of her relationship with Abramoff, his tribal clients and Griles.
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Nonprofit Groups Funneled Money For Abramoff
All told in 1999, the Choctaws gave Americans for Tax Reform $1.15 million, most of which ATR passed on to Reed's for-profit political consulting company, Century Strategies, and Christian anti-gambling groups working to defeat a state lottery in Alabama.
Norquist said in The Post interview that the Choctaw tribe originally wanted ATR to direct the anti-lottery campaign, but his organization decided that it would be better to assist Christian groups already fighting the lottery.
"When we looked at it, we said they have an actual ongoing effort, we don't need to run it and [could instead] just contribute there, which was a continuation of the previous coalition," Norquist said. "They said fine."
But Choctaw representative Nell Rogers told Senate Indian Affairs Committee investigators that ATR "was not involved and was not considering getting involved in any efforts the Choctaw ultimately paid Reed and others to oppose," the committee reported. "Rogers told the committee staff that she understood from Abramoff that ATR was willing to serve as a conduit, provided it received a fee," the report said.
Rogers said the tribe had a long relationship with Americans for Tax Reform and assumed that the fee "would simply be used to support the overall activity of ATR."
Abramoff, however, grew annoyed at the amount that Norquist took off the top before sending the money on, e-mails show. "Grover kept another $25 k!" Abramoff wrote in a February 2000 note to himself.
John Kartch, a spokesman for Americans for Tax Reform, said Friday that the group was not involved in Abramoff's lobbying business. The Choctaw tribe, he said, "was a longtime supporter of ATR. They had no business dealings with Grover Norquist, nor did Jack Abramoff."
E-mails show that Abramoff also moved client money through a conservative Jewish foundation called Toward Tradition, run by longtime Abramoff friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin. In January 2000, when Reed sent Abramoff an $867,000 invoice to be billed to a Choctaw official, Abramoff responded: "Ok, thanks. Please get me the groups we are using, since I want to give this to her all at once." Reed responded: "Amy, Grover, Lapin and one other I will get you."
Abramoff tapped the same cluster of tax-exempt groups in 2000 to help defeat legislation to ban gambling on the Internet. Abramoff's client, an online gambling services company called eLottery, donated money to ATR, the policy research center and Toward Tradition.
In May 2000, just before a key vote on the anti-gambling bill, the research center paid for the Scotland trip for then-House Majority Whip DeLay. Toward Tradition hired the wife of DeLay aide Tony C. Rudy, who later pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt public officials, saying his wife was paid in exchange for his official actions. Lapin has said his hiring of Lisa Rudy was not connected to any eLottery donations.
Americans for Tax Reform received $160,000 from eLottery, and Norquist immediately sent most of the money to a state nonprofit group, which in turn sent the money to another Ralph Reed company to fund attack ads on Republicans who supported the gambling ban.
In the interview, Norquist denied that the purpose of the transfer was to hide the money's origin.