Thursday, November 18, 2004

Coushatta Redux

Originally uploaded by NMCIL ortiz domney.
Well, there have been a few new wrinkles in the story of Ralphie, Jackie and Mikey.

Michael Scanlon has been corraled finally and put under oath by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. And lo and behold his friends in the Coushatta Tribe aren't so friendly any more! Seems Mikey bit the hand that fed him! Scanlon, along with Jack Abramoff, Abramoff's former lawfirm Greenberg Traurig are being sued for the $32 million they paid to keep the Jena Choctaws from setting up their casino in Louisiana.

Even sharks don't like being lunchmeat. According to NewsFlash, "Abramoff and Scanlon are being sued for overbilling, fraud, taking tribal money for personal use, negligent misrepresentation and unfair trade practices." Along with the money being repaid they are asking for damages.

Greenberg and Traurig are being accused of "failing to supervise Abramoff adequately.

I will leave it up to the Coushattas to say if they they knew just how these men went about getting rid of the competition for them, they didn't own up to it on the summons, they just know that they were being defrauded in the process.

You can get things done two ways. One sic "anti-gambling crusader" Ralph Reed on them, then come in as the white knights promising come hell or high water to get back that gambling license, or helping money rich tribes get rid of competition - by sicing "anti-gambling crusader" Ralph Reed on it. Along the way shake down the client for every cent you can.

Word is that Abramoff and Scanlon shook tribes down by methods like asking them to take out life insurance on tribal elders with death benefits going to a private academy supported by Scanlon, asking to pay for $50,000 golfing trip to Scotland for messrs Abramoff, Scanlon,Reed, and congressman Rob Ney. More about him later.

Of course, they'd go through the motions. No doubt results would in the end matter. After all the scam must have some longevity. So you find the easiest way to get he job done, and pad the bill. And so they'd cut corners by double crossing congressional representatives when in advocacy mode, and create false anti-gambling movements å la Mr. Reed.

This is where the Senate Indian Affairs Committee comes in. They were investigating an instance of this scam done to the Tigua Indians of Texas. Chairman Ben Nighthorse Campbell R-Colorado was livid. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"'For 400 years people have cheating Indians,so you are not the first one,' Campbell, R-Colo., told Scanlon. 'But you are the problem with what's happening to American Indians.'

Carlos Hisa, the lieutenant governor of the Tigua said he was outraged when he learned Scanlon was paying moneu to Reed's anti-gambling group and then billing himself as the key to helping the tribe get it's casino back. ' A rattlesnake will warn you before it strikes. They did everything behind our backs'"

After the "righteous wrath" of Ralph Reed, came the "rescue" from Jack Abramoff, whom the Tigua contacted after their casino closed down. He introduced Scanlon who took $4.2 million for lobbying federal support for the license. Then he gave half of this to Abramoff.

Our two enterprising swindlers then promised the legislation would be attached to an election reform bill and had the support of the two chief sponsors Sen. Chris Dodd D-Conn, and Rep Rob Ney, R-Ohio. This is where the double cross comes in.

Ney says that he backed the Indian measure only because he was told that Dodd supported it. Dodd says he was never contacted. Someone was lying. Ney says he was duped.

If so then he wasn't the only politico to get fooled. We started this story with the Coushatta case and we will end this chapter of it there. Back to Louisiana.

When Abramoff and Scanlon and Reed were taking down the Jenas for the Coushattas, they made use of Rep. David Vitter's fight with then Governor Mike Foster who signed a compact with the Jenas on their casino. Vitter succeeded in shutting down the casino with what he thought was a legitimate anti-gambling committee called the Committee Against Gambling Expansion. But according to the Las Vegas Sun: "An attorney for the Coushattas said he was told by tribal leaders that the group was formed to stop casino projects that threatened the profits of tribes that already has casinos - in other word, anti-competition rather than anti-gambling." Then it was revealed that Ralph Reed and his company Century Strategies had raised money and support for this organization.

Reed of course, claims that his involvement was to simply to stop the gambling.

No comments: