News Release

Fallout from Abramoff: · Congress for Sale? · Religious Right for Sale?


Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, Clemente said today: “Make no mistake about it: Abramoff is a crook. But crooks like Abramoff can flourish in the environment on Capitol Hill where lobbyists and their clients offer lawmakers campaign contributions and gifts, arrange travel junkets for lawmakers and their staffs to luxurious golf resorts in foreign countries, and promise six- or seven-figure lobbying jobs in the private sector once a lawmaker leaves office.”

Holman is legislative representative for the group. He said today: “Little will change unless Congress passes legislation to curtail the influence-peddling industry. Lawmakers should follow the lead of California, where lobbyists are not allowed to make campaign contributions to those whom they lobby. Congress also should follow the lead of Florida, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, where lobbyists are prohibited from offering gifts of any value to federal officials.”
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Author of the book Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy and founder of the interactive blog Talk to Action about the religious right, Clarkson said today: “The guilty plea of former Washington powerhouse lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his promise of cooperation with federal prosecutors in a widening governmental corruption probe have many Washington insiders very nervous. Prominent members of Congress are already implicated. But information unearthed by federal investigators and by the Washington Post suggests that not only are members of Congress for sale — but maybe some of the religious right are as well.

“This includes Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition; Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder of the California-based Traditional Values Coalition; and Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of Towards Tradition, a conservative Jewish entity aligned with the religious right. Reed’s consulting company, the TVC and Toward Tradition each received money from an Internet gambling company at the direction of Jack Abramoff. All were closely involved in a lobbying effort to stop the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, which was nearing passage in Congress and would have banned all Internet gambling. Their efforts are credited with stopping the bill.

“All three claim they did not know that the money for their efforts came from gambling interests affected by the bill. However, according to the Washington Post, which has copies of the checks, Abramoff’s client eLottery sent $25,000 checks to both the Traditional Values Coalition and Toward Tradition (where Abramoff was chair of the board). In Reed’s case, the money was apparently laundered through two other entities before going to a subsidiary of Reed’s Century Consulting company. The defection of Reed, Sheldon, and Lapin from the coalition that supported the bill — including the Christian Coalition, Moral Majority and James Dobson of Focus on the Family — seems to be all about these groups’ relationship to Abramoff and is at the center of the growing corruption investigation in the nation’s capital. Did they do anything illegal? That is not clear. But all acknowledge receiving the funds and lobbying against the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167