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Texas Tribe Names Abramoff, Reed in Suit

The tribe, which says it has strong Christian values, alleges Reed's group called state legislators, sent targeted mailings to voters and ran radio ads against the bill without revealing their true origins, preventing the tribe from fighting back.

"They made it appear as if they were operating on behalf of religious groups, but in fact they were operating on behalf of the Louisiana-Coushatta," Petti said.

Lisa Baron, communications director of the Reed for Lt. Governor campaign, said in a statement: "This frivolous lawsuit is utterly without merit. The illegal casino violated Texas and federal law and was ordered closed by a federal judge. As a longtime opponent of casino gambling, Ralph was happy to work with Texas pro-family citizens to close it."

Attempts to get comment on Abramoff's behalf were not immediately successful.

Reed's work made the opposition to the tribe's casino appear to be based on Christian concerns, not competitive concerns from its sister tribe, the Alabama-Coushatta said.

Had the public or tribe known the Louisiana Coushatta tribe was the main opponent, Christian groups would have been "less mobilized." Because the Texas and Louisiana tribes share family ties, Louisiana Coushatta members would have opposed the attack on their sister tribe, the Alabama-Coushatta said.

"They pitted Christian against Christian, tribe against tribe and cousin against cousin," the tribe said.

The tribe also alleges that Abramoff fraudulently bilked it of $50,000 and used it to "bribe" Ney with a golfing trip to Scotland in exchange for "fixing" its gaming problem. In his guilty plea, Abramoff said Ney accepted the trip knowing the tribal clients paid for the trip. Ney has repeatedly said he is innocent of wrongdoing.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court's western district of Texas in Austin.

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© 2006 The Associated Press