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
"Someone from eLottery talked to me or somebody on our staff and said, 'Will you help us with this campaign?' and we said, 'We're certainly supportive of it,' and they gave us resources and asked if we would contribute to the state group," Norquist said.
Norquist said he could not remember if he knew at the time that eLottery was an Abramoff client, but he said it would not have made any difference.
Trip to the Marianas
As far back as 1996, Abramoff was using Ridenour's National Center for Public Policy Research to hide the source of funding for trips and other ventures intended to boost the interests of his lobbying clients, e-mails show.
Douglas Bandow, a think-tank scholar and former Copley News Service columnist, received $10,000 that year from Abramoff clients through the center, according to an Abramoff e-mail. Bandow has acknowledged that he accepted money from Abramoff in exchange for writing articles supporting the lobbyist's clients in the 1990s.
Abramoff used the center to hide his sponsorship of an all-expenses-paid trip in 2000 for three congressional staffers to the Northern Mariana Islands that now figures in the investigation. The trip is listed as an illicit activity in the plea agreements of Abramoff and three associates.
The congressional staffers on the Marianas trip worked on the campaign of a Marianas politician who pushed through a $100,000-a-month government lobbying contract for Abramoff.
Abramoff e-mailed instructions to his assistant, Susan Ralston, and others to conceal the true source of funding for the "very important" trip. "The tickets should not in any way say my name or our firm's name," Abramoff wrote. "They should, if possible, say 'National Center for Public Policy Research.' We should pay using my Visa."
Ridenour readily agreed to help, e-mails show. A Marianas client wired about $25,000 to the center's bank account. Abramoff instructed Ridenour to write checks to cover the travel costs of the congressional staffers and Edwin A. Buckham, a former DeLay top aide and lobbyist.
"We'll call the bank first thing in the a.m. and confirm that the money has arrived, and then I will get checks out to you and Ed," Ridenour wrote.
"Yes, we should get invoices for these. This is not only good for us, but if the IRS should later inquire, it is proof for you and Ed that you do not owe income tax on this money. The invoices need not be fancy. Thanks, Amy."
Last year, Ridenour told the Senate committee that she thought the DeLay trip she agreed to sponsor in 2000 was "an educational trip" to Britain, not a golfing junket to Scotland. "The trip I believed I was approving -- and indeed the trip that I invited the member of Congress on . . . was simply to be a trip to London, meet with some members of Parliament and fly home," she said.
By this time, Abramoff was routinely juggling money among various groups. Months after the Scotland trip, Buckham complained to Abramoff that he was still awaiting reimbursement for costs incurred on the trip by DeLay and DeLay's chief of staff, Susan Hirschmann.
"Jack, I hate to bother you on this note, but I am still carrying the DeLay/Hirschmann etc. bills on my American Express Sign and Travel and the interest keeps adding up. Any hope on reimbursement by Amy's group?"
Abramoff replied: "Sorry about this Ed. How much is it again? Would it be alright to get the payment from somewhere other than Amy's group?"