The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Abramoff-Scanlon Indian scam gets better and better...

From the blogging viewpoint, that is [1].

A 5,000 word Texas Observer piece explores the activities of A&S as they affected the Coushatta Nation of Louisiana [2].

There is some background on the guys - Abramoff produced right-wing movies before his arrival in K Street in 1994 and Scanlon helped run the Clinton impeachment war-room in 1998 [3].

Then we turn to the matter at hand: to start with, a gift [4] of a million bucks
to the Eshkol Academy, the private Jewish school that Abramoff and his wife founded and ran in Maryland.

Which the Indians deny having made - though a $1 million contribution was included in a 2001 IRS filing for the school, apparently.

The fact that it can be disputed whether such a sum has been paid is, perhaps, some indication of the shambolic way in which the Coushatta handled their money.

Little wonder that A&S should safeguard their golden goose by ensuring the election of pliable representatives on tribal councils.

Eventually, the piece takes us to the bull point - which is not something one reads much of in the coverage of the scandal, amidst the self-righteous indignation: where the money came from:
Almost $34 million had been paid [by the Coushatta] to Abramoff and Scanlon—not including contributions they had directed the tribal council to make. Approximately $24 million had been taken from tribal health, education, and housing funds, with no provision to repay it, and the tribe had opened up a $10-million line of credit.

Could that misappropriation of funds conceivably be illegal?

The piece notes that, because they are sovereign,
Indian tribes...are not subject to state open records acts or the federal Freedom of Information Act.

So I'm not clear how regular Federal law would apply, if at all, to misappropriation of tribal funds.

And - another titbit bearing on the competence, probity or sanity (as the case may be) of those in charge of Coushatta affairs - the organisation in charge of tribe lobbying before A&S was
the lobbying firm of former Louisiana Senator Bennet Johnson, which charged them approximately $152,000 a year before Abramoff took over.

The piece does not mention whether, in the deliberately tangled web of financial transactions - or laundering, perhaps? - performed with the tribe's cash, any of it was kicked back to the chaps who were passing it over so gleefully.

Perhaps, they all had more money than they could spend already: apparently, the tribe of 813 members enjoys gaming revenues of some $300 million a year - making a windfall of approximately $1,000 a day for each man, woman and child.

That they should be fucked by the same fickle finger of fate that showered them with the bonanza in the first place is a story arc that's pure Hollywood.

Perhaps Abramoff would like to produce the movie...

  1. The pair's operations first mentioned here on November 20.

  2. There are six tribes and a total of $66 million involved - and a shedload of material online.

  3. Apparently, at the time of the impeachment vote, Scanlon put his foot on the neck of the Provisional IRA's Washington go-to guy, 'Pete' King. Big kudos for that!

  4. The total wampum snaffled for the school was around $2 million.

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