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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Howell's Howler VII

Mark Schmitt absolutely nails the Washington Post in a very important ...
comment on Brad DeLong's blog. "And he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties." This lead to an avalanche of furious complaints. Howell replied conceding (sortof) that her claim was false, but also claiming that Jack Abramoff
"directed his Indian tribal clients to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties." To support this claim she links to two graphics. A graph of donations by Abramoff and Abramoff's clients which provides no evidence on which donations of clients were directed by abramoff and a scrap of evidence about direction which does show some names of Democrats in a memo identified by the Post as a communication from Abramoff to the Lousiana Coushettas.

Mark Schmitt notes that the actual donations to Democrats by the Coushettas do not match those on the list. Thus there are donations from Abramoff's clients and indications from Abramoff about donations to Democrats, but no match. I had trouble finding the FEC records last night and tip my hat to Schmitt. However, the Washington Post can not use that as an excuse. Howell and 3 defenders at the Post have repeated that they have proof that Abramoff directed donations to Democrats. The scrap of evidence they present is no such thing. Due dilligence would have included checking FEC records before libelling Democrats. Posting the scrap is not asserting that it corresponds to what actually happened, but they have since made that assertion without checking.

The scrap of evidence stolen

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I'm just going to steal Mark Schmitt's response to Howell. I can't understand why I had trouble getting to the page with data myself.

A detailed list of contributions by Abramoff, Scanlon, and their clients is here:

This excludes contributions made before Abramoff was a registered lobbyist, but makes no effort to detect whether he directed them or not, or to compare their pre- and post-Abramoff giving.

Comparing it to the list that Howell cited, reveals some interesting discrepancies: the fragment of the list directs $2,000 to former Sen. Max Cleland. The Center for Responsive Politics list shows the Coushattas giving $500 to Cleland and $5,500 to his opponent, Saxby Chambliss. Likewise, the fragment suggests $2,000 to Jean Carnahan; in reality, neither the Coushattas nor any other Abramoff client gave to Carnahan but both Abramoff and his clients gave $3,000 to her opponent, Jim Talent. Senator Daschle, whose name appears on the fragment of a list with an illegible amount, did not receive any money from the Coushattas, although he did receive significant funding from other tribes, as did his opponent, now-Sen. Thune.

Not sure what this proves, except that the fragment of an e-mail cited by Howell does not seem to be an accurate representation of actual donations directed by Abramoff.

Posted by: Mark Schmitt | January 21, 2006 at 08:54 AM

Here, by the way, is the list just for actual Coushatta contributions:

[That is]

I'll let someone else do the math. My inclination would be to exclude all the contributions to Louisiana Dems and Republicans -- since those are their own representatives -- and then add up the rest. There's some money to Tim Johnson in South Dakota on that list -- like Byron Dorgan, someone who "was supporting Indian tribes for longer than Abramoff was bilking them" -- and $2,000 to Tom Harkin (likewise), and the rest of the $220,000 or so is all Republicans, especially those in targetted races.

Posted by: Mark Schmitt | January 21, 2006 at 09:06 AM

Also Brad's comments on the scrap of evidence that Abramoff directed donations to democrats are very convincing. I'd say that it is no mystery that no donations to Dascle were actually made.

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