Jack Abramoff: A Portrait of Corruption
Politics might not cause corruption but it sure can lead to some amazingly crooked behavior. The most recent tale of corruption is also one of the most shockingly heartless to come out in years. And it involves Republican power-player and lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his business partner Michael Scanlon.
The tale of their alleged misdeeds is long and involved. But one of the most disgusting acts was reported last night on ABC's Nightline. Without getting into the nitty gritty, here are the details.
• Abramoff represented Indian tribe casino interests in Louisiana.
• The Louisiana tribe felt they were losing business to an El Paso, Texas tribe's casino
• Abramoff used the Louisiana tribe's casino money to fund a Christian grassroots opposition to the El Paso casino on the grounds that gambling is immoral
• The grassroots campaign worked and the El Paso casino was shut down, putting around 400 Native Americans out of work and shutting off the tribe's only viable source of income
• Abramoff then met with the El Paso tribe and sold them on his services, saying he could get them reopened by slipping language into a bill before Congress.
• The tribe had no knowledge that Abramoff had funded the grassroots campaign against them and agreed to pay Abramoff 4 million dollars along with several hundred thousand in targeted political contributions
• Abramoff failed to get the language inserted and the casino remains closed
• Throughout this episode Abramoff and Scanlon exchanged e-mails gloating over how smart they were and how dumb the El Paso tribe was.
I don't think I need to comment on this. The alleged facts pretty much paint a clear portrait of immense corruption and exploitation. There's nothing quite like greed to make a man forget he has a heart.
And this is only one of the many shady deals for which Abramoff is being investigated by the FBI and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Before the inevitable trials are complete, this might be a scandal that takes several lawmakers down with it, most prominently Abramoff's good friend, House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) who may or may not have received illegal contributions via Abramoff.
Whatever the outcome, Jack Abramoff is living proof that power, greed and a casual relationship with morality can lead a man to commit truly reprehensible acts.