Bloomberg reports the latest revelations in the scandal swirling around Jack Abramoff's relationship with the Coushatta Indian tribe of Louisiana.
The relevance of this story goes beyond the immediate corruption itself, which is pretty staggering. I mean, $80 million from a handful of tribes over three years is not chicken feed!
For starters, there is the fact that Abramoff and his colleague Ralph Reed used some of this money to attempt to manipulate politics in Louisiana. Reed, you may recall, used money from the tribes funneled through Abramoff to mobilize Christian anti-gambling forces in Louisiana to fight the possible issuance of another Indian casino license in Louisiana.
We have enough issues with homegrown corruption in Louisiana without having Washington- and Georgia-based hypocrites running around throwing off cash by the bucket load in order to advance their schemes.
Isn't it a cruelly ironic that the Washington corrupt establishment is now using Louisiana's reputation for corruption as the basis for living up to promises to rebuild and restore communities wrecked by hurricanes Katrina and Rita?
The fact is that the money Abramoff and his cohorts raised from the Indian tribes and other client/victims was used to fund a political slush fund in Washington controlled by Republicans for the primary benefit of Republicans. How high do Abramoff's connections go? Susan Ralston was Jack Abramoff's personal assistant before she hired on for a similar position with Karl Rove. Ralston, apparently, served as the gatekeeper for Abramoff's luxury box influence machine at D.C. area sports venues.
Much of this corruption flowed off the proceeds of shady deals Abramoff struck with Indian tribes in Louisiana.