03 October 2005

The Hammer Falls....

The vast corrupt money machine that funded the Republican Revolution is exploding before our eyes.

At its height, the first great political machine of the 21st century worked like this: In Congress, Texas Rep. Tom DeLay controlled the votes like a modern-day Boss Tweed. He called himself "the Hammer." His domain included a vast network of former aides and foot soldiers he installed in key positions at law firms and trade groups, a network that came to be called the "K Street Project." He gathered tithes in the form of campaign cash, hard and soft, and spread it out among the loyal. He legislated for favored donors. He punished those who disobeyed, and bought off those who could be paid.

Conservative activists, who had grown up in the heady days of Reagan's America, patrolled the badlands of American politics for new opportunities. None did it better than Jack Abramoff, a former president of the College Republicans, who had a taste for expensive suits. Abramoff opened a restaurant, Signatures, where the powerful came to be seen and, in many cases, treated to free meals from a menu that included $74 steaks. He pulled in tens of millions of dollars from Indian tribes and the Northern Marianas Islands to help fund other operations -- skyboxes at the MCI Center where DeLay could hold his fundraisers and all-expense trips to Scotland where DeLay and friends could play golf.

Others were drawn into the web as well. Abramoff kicked down money to his old college buddy Grover Norquist, an anti-tax crusader whose role was to keep the right-wing ideologues in line. He hired Ralph Reed, a former advisor to the Christian Coalition, who helped keep the religious right on good terms with the Republican leadership. He hired Michael Scanlon, a former aide to DeLay, as his assistant. He leaned on former lobbying colleagues, like David Safavian, who was working in the Bush administration and could do favors for his clients. Susan Ralston, Abramoff's former gatekeeper and executive assistant, went to work for Karl Rove in the White House.

For a while, the whole operation seemed unstoppable. DeLay, Abramoff, Norquist, Reed and Rove vanquished their Democratic opponents, winning election after election. The loyalty that ensued allowed for a historic cohesion in Congress. Tax breaks passed like clockwork, as did subsidies for favored industries and cuts to long-standing Democratic initiatives.

But the machine may now be coming to an end. The prosecutors have arrived, and they are handing out indictments at a blistering rate. "It's a house of cards," says Norman Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "Jack Abramoff has been the ace of spades, but Tom DeLay has been linked arm in arm with him." Now the house is on the brink of collapse, he added. "Everything that surrounded the K Street Project and what flowed from it ... all of that is under intense pressure."

On Wednesday, DeLay was indicted with two aides by a Texas grand jury, accused of flouting campaign finance laws by illegally laundering corporate funds to GOP candidates in the state. Two months ago, Abramoff was arrested and charged with fraud in connection with a casino deal in Florida. On Tuesday, two employees of a company owned by Abramoff were charged with murdering the casino's former owner. Last week, the feds arrested David Safavian, who has been working in the White House, on charges of lying to investigators about a trip to Scotland with DeLay and Abramoff. Scanlon, the former DeLay aide who worked with Abramoff, is said to be cooperating with investigators, who are likely to file even more charges.

For those who have followed the machine from its inception, these developments are striking. "It represents the beginning of the end of an era," said Vic Fazio, a lobbyist at the law firm Akin, Gump and a former California congressman. "A powerful group of people who had consolidated their power in the mid- to late 1990s is now vulnerable to legal attack."

1 Comments:

At Monday, October 03, 2005 7:17:00 PM, Blogger realitycheckmate said...

Tom Delay is a perfect example of why you should not support corporations that donate to conservatives. Take your money elsewhere.

Vote with your wallet.

Here is a list of corporations and there political affiliation.

http://www.buyblue.org/directory/alpha

These two corporations contribute and donate the most to the Progressive Liberal movement. They are "Working Assets" long distance and wireless, and "Progressive Auto Insurance".

www.workingassets.com
www.progressive.com

Please tell your friends about these websites. Feel free to cut and copy this to other blogs, message boards, and email.

 

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