Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bad Ralphie

Ralph Sanctimonious, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

The Antichrist Wannabe

From the Providence Journal:

"Ralph the righteous

01:00 AM EST on Saturday, December 31, 2005

Once upon a time, Ralph Reed opposed gambling. Or so he said. As the fresh-faced director of the Christian Coalition many moons ago, Mr. Reed called gambling "a cancer on the American body politic" and an enemy of "family values."

Mr. Reed left that job in 1997, while being investigated for helping a direct-mail company overbill the Christian Coalition. He then founded a political-consulting firm and started working with scandal-covered lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Now the walls of scandal are beginning to close in on Ralph Reed, too.

Mr. Reed basically conned Christian groups in the South to oppose certain casinos on moral grounds. But his real objective was to help other casinos retain their monopolies.

The money didn't travel in a straight line. In 2000, a casino-owning Indian tribe in Mississippi sent $1.15 million to Americans for Tax Reform, run by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. The Norquist group then sent $850,000 to the Christian Coalition of Alabama -- to be used to kill a casino proposal in that state. Although Mr. Reed had led the Coalition members to believe that they were stopping the spread of gambling to Alabama, they were really just preserving the casino profits in next-door Mississippi.

The Senate's Indian Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.), has released some remarkable e-mails passed between Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Reed. In one, Mr. Reed reported that he was looking to the Christian groups for more funds to basically help their opponents. "We will be doing all we can to raise money from national anti-gambling groups, Christian CEOs, and national pro-family groups," he wrote.

In Texas, meanwhile, Mr. Reed received a reported $4.2 million from the Abramoff organization to rally Christians to close Indian casinos in El Paso and Livingston. After they were shut down, Mr. Abramoff offered to help the tribes reopen them. The owners of the El Paso casino actually hired him.

Mr. Reed denies knowing that the millions handed to him were for the purpose of helping Mr. Abramoff's casino clients. And now he claims to have had no idea that the money came from casino proceeds.

Senate investigators are estimating that Mr. Abramoff and his partner Michael Scanlon have defrauded their Indian clients of $80 million. Mr. Scanlon has already pleaded guilty to various charges and is cooperating with the investigators.

What makes Mr. Reed tick remains a bit of a mystery. We cannot fathom the mentality that would so cynically double-cross the very religious conservatives he was supposedly representing -- other than one of avarice.

Mr. Reed professes his innocence in all these transactions. And in an intriguing act of arrogance, he is now seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Georgia!

We doubt that Mr. Reed's wall of denial can stand much longer."

Providence Journal December 31st "Ralph the Rightoeous"

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