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Wednesday, June 22

The Mystery Continues

By Bob Kemper
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJ-C link)(free registration)
Published on: 06/21/05

Washington — "Ralph Reed won't be in the Senate hearing room Wednesday. But the role the Republican candidate for Georgia lieutenant governor played in blocking gambling in Alabama six years ago will be examined closely in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee's third hearing into whether Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff defrauded six casino-operating Indian tribes.

"Three leaders of the Choctaw tribe of Mississippi will headline the hearing, the committee announced Monday. Several associates of Abramoff and his partner, Michael Scanlon, are scheduled to testify, but Reed isn't among the listed witnesses.

"The Choctaw tribe, an Abramoff client, is at the center of a controversy over whether Abramoff, Reed and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, used proceeds from the Choctaws' casino to fund opposition to a state lottery and video poker machines in neighboring Alabama that threatened the Choctaws' gambling monopoly in the area.

"The Choctaws had paid Abramoff $7 million since 1995, in part, to help quash competition.

"At the request of Abramoff, the Mississippi Indians sent $1.15 million to Norquist's anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform, in Washington.

"Norquist then sent most of that money on to anti-gambling groups in Alabama that, with help from Reed, defeated the state lottery in 1999 and video poker machines in 2000.

"The Alabama groups, including the Christian Coalition's state chapter, turned the money over to Reed and his company, Century Strategies, to pay for the campaign and his consulting services. Reed and the Choctaws said the money used to pay for the Alabama campaigns came from the tribe's nongambling revenue.

"The Indian Affairs Committee, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), also is examining Reed's role in shutting down Indian casinos in Texas under a similar arrangement with Abramoff. Reed has said he was unaware that the Texas campaign, which targeted the Tigua Indians in El Paso and another Indian casino near Houston, was funded with gambling proceeds".

(I believe this will be on c-span today.)

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