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Friday, February 10, 2006

John Solomon and Sharon Theimer of AP report that "Abramoff Team and Reid's Office Had Frequent Contact, Records Show"

The article tends to argue (sorry report) that Senate minority leader Harry Reid is involved with Jack (scandal) Abramoff. There is very little in the article. Exibit A is the letter that Reid wrote opposing the Jena Band casino

Although Abramoff never donated personally to Reid, the lobbyist did instruct one tribe, the Louisiana Coushattas, to send $5,000 to Reid's tax-exempt political group, the Searchlight Leadership Fund, in 2002. Reid was Democratic whip at the time.

Abramoff sent a list to the tribe titled "Coushatta Requests" recommending donations to campaigns or groups for 50 lawmakers. Alongside Reid's name, Abramoff wrote, "5,000 (Searchlight Leadership Fund) Senate Majority Whip."

About the same time, Reid sent a letter to the Interior Department helpful to the tribe, records show. His March 5, 2002, letter pressed the agency to reject a casino proposed by a potential rival to the Coushattas, the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) also signed the letter.

This is not news. Also, as noted in the article, it is not surprising that senators from Nevada oppose casinos outside of Nevada. Kinda like catching a senator from Kansas supporting farm price supports.

Finally the Center for Responsive Politics reports 0 (zero) donations from the Lousiana Coushatta's to Harry Reid's pac. Thus, as Mark Schmitt notes is common for the "Coushatta requests" memo, the document either does not list instructions from Abramoff or proves that the Coushattas were not mere Abramoff pawns.

All in all, I agree with Josh Marshall that it's "Pretty weak stuff" although I think "the old college try" would, at least, have involved checking actual donations as listed on the web.

I noticed reading the article that efforts to lobby Reid on applying the minimum wage to the Norther Mariana islands are listed, but Reid's position on the issue is not mentioned. I assumed this means that Reid supported the minimum wage bill and that the lobbying efforts thus failed. That is, I assumed that the unbiased reporters would have reported Reid's position if he had acted as the lobbyists asked. Josh Marshall confirms my guess.

update: Derek W explains why the money to one of Reid's two Searchlight Leadership Funds does not appear on capitaleye. Roughly it is a 527 and doesn't report to the FEC.


I'd like to try and set something straight: the Center for Responsive
Politics, as good as it is, does not have a complete list of
contributions related to federal lawmakers because some of them
operated (prior to 2003) non-federal accounts that did NOT report to
the FEC, but reported to the IRS. These were known as 527 accounts.
Harry Reid's federal PAC, the Searchlight Leadership Fund, had a
non-federal account. That is where the Coushatta donation went. The
Center for Public Integrity has the most complete database of 527
committee activity (outside the IRS itself) and you can find the
Coushatta donations here:

To suggest that this is a "missing" donation is completely and utterly
false. It is a matter of public record and easily verified. That CRP
and other folks have not done so is up to them.


Everyone else's point about the minimum wage for the Marianas Islands was correct.

I am now looking for Cushatta donations to Dashpac. A proposed (possibly crossed out) $5,000 appears in the scrap of evidence presented by the Washington Post as "Coushatta requests" (see below). No sign at the link above or here,
here or here. Dash pac is not a 527 (although it has received money from 537s). It should be covered by the FEC data.

Update 2: Derek Willis said it is ok for me to post his full name, and

Also he explains that Daschle has 2 dash pacs one of which is a 527
"Also, fyi, DASH PAC did have a 527 account."

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