Sunday, December 18, 2005

Scanlon bragged about controlling legislative districts in Louisiana

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a Texas district attorney is considering an investigation into the Indian casino-funded, Jack Abramoff-related lobbying activities of former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed.

Here's a synopsis of the focus of the potential inquiry:
An investigation would focus more attention on Reed's work for Abramoff — a three-year partnership in which Reed conducted anti-gambling campaigns in Texas, Louisiana and Alabama. Two of Abramoff's tribal clients, eager to preserve their casino markets, funneled Reed more than $5 million toward his efforts.
Now, ethics laws vary across state lines, so it could be that there is nothing to investigate at the state level, though the article suggests that Texas lobbying laws might apply to Reed's activities there.

This paragraph raises questions about the extent of the influence that Abramoff, his associate Michael Scanlon, and Reed wielded in Louisiana:
Reed's work was part of a larger effort by Abramoff and his partner, Michael Scanlon, to sell the Louisiana Coushatta tribe on the need to expand its political clout into Texas. "Can you imagine the power of controlling legislative districts in the state of Texas in the same fashion as your home state?" Scanlon wrote to a tribal official, according to an e-mail released by a Senate committee.
The Scanlon quote comes from an e-mail that turned up in Senator John McCain's investigation into Abramoff's operation. The Abramoff operation, which might well have funded a broader web of Washington corruption, was financed primarily by the Louisiana Coushatta Indians, owners of the casino and hotel operations based near the Allen Parish town of Kinder, Louisiana.

Scanlon has recently agreed to cooperate with a federal criminal investigation into Abramoff's various activities, which reportedly include bribery of members of Congress and the executive branch.

What do we know about the extent of the influence Abramoff, Scanlon and Reed had in Louisiana, particularly during the second term of Governor Mike Foster (that's when the Jena Choctaws were closest to get their casino license and the time when Abramoff was exerting his influence in the U.S. Department of the Interior)? It is documented that this is when Abramoff hooked up with then-Congressman David Vitter.

But, what else were they doing in Louisiana? Which legislative districts did they control here? Has this ever been investigated? Where's the attorney general's office on this? What about a district attorney in the Allen Parish area?

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