Abramoff, DeLay sell selves to highest bidder
June 28, 2005
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has disgraced the Texas voters who helped bring him to power.
He has come to embody the very image of a corrupt politician, selling his influence to the highest bidder. DeLay's unholy alliance with lobbyist Jack Abramoff is a perfect example.
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee recently looked into charges that Abramoff and a lobbying partner had bilked millions of dollars out of American Indian tribes. The FBI is investigating how he and his firm allegedly cheated these groups out of more than $66 million in exchange for persuading Congress to expand gaming rights. Abramoff's chief selling point among his Indian clients was his direct access to DeLay.
DeLay and his family made numerous trips and received gifts paid for by the lobbyist's clients, which is forbidden by congressional ethics rules. These contributions were lightly laundered through a nonprofit organization, the National Center for Public Research Policy. Abramoff was on the board of the Center.
Records from Abramoff's firm indicate that DeLay and his top aides were often in daily contact with the lobbyist when his clients were making contributions to the same nonprofit group that paid for the congressman's travel.
Despite all this, DeLay continues to pound the fist of moral authority.
Abramoff and DeLay exemplify the American ethos that winning makes everything right. Abramoff routinely referred to his tribal clients as troglodytes and morons. Although there is overt bigotry suggested in this behavior, the truth is that the racism seems purely incidental, and that the Indians were simply the patsies of the moment.
The fact is that none of the players in this debacle emerges clean. It turns out that the Choctaw of Mississippi hired Abramoff to help deter gaming efforts by competing tribes.
DeLay and Abramoff were bound together by a common interest in religious values. Abramoff, an orthodox Jew, and DeLay, a conservative Baptist, met during the airing of a conservative radio talk show. It is divinely ironic that their ultimate disgrace may be tied up with poor ethics.
Mary Annette Pember, Red Cliff Ojibwe, is past president of the Native American Journalists Association. She is currently lives and works as an independent journalist in Cincinnati. She can be reached at email@example.com.