Sunday, March 26, 2006

Top DeLay Aide Had Ties To Abramoff, Suggesting Ties Between Lobbyist And DeLay

A top adviser to former House Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) received more than a third of all the money collected by the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit organization that gained most of its revenue from clients of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to the group's accounting records.

DeLay's former chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, who helped create the group while still in DeLay's employ, and his wife, Wendy, were the principal beneficiaries of the group's $3.02 million in revenue, collecting payments totaling $1,022,729 during a five-year period ending in 2001, public and private records show.

From an FBI subpoena for the records, it can be inferred that the bureau is exploring whether there were links between the payments and favorable legislative treatment of Abramoff's clients by DeLay's office.


Shortly after Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion charges, agreeing to cooperate in a federal corruption probe, DeLay amazingly tried to distance himself from Abramoff.

In a letter to constituents, DeLay wrote of Abramoff: "the notion that he was a close friend who wielded influence over me is absolutely untrue."

Questions also have been raised about DeLay's relationship with Abramoff, dating back to mid-1990s trips Abramoff organized for DeLay and others to the Mariana Islands, which -- DeLay would suggest coincidentally -- led to DeLay blocking legislation to end slave labor practices on the islands. DeLay's action went against other Republicans, such as former Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK), who sponsored similar legislation in the Senate.

More recently, DeLay traveled with Abramoff and other lobbyists to Scotland in 2000. He also used the lobbyist's skybox for a donor appreciation event and has accepted contributions from Abramoff and his clients.


Anonymous MaDem said...

Maybe he can room with the Dukester!!! They have much in common!

4:43 PM  
Anonymous yellowcanine said...

Check this out. Can you say money laundering?

The board also agreed at its final meeting in January 2001 to pay $150,000 to the Dorothy Joan Morris Foundation.

The minutes state this was done at the request of "the gentleman who donated the largest amount of money to USFN" -- a term that Geeslin said is a euphemism for Buckham's fundraising.

Incorporation papers on file with the Maryland Secretary of State list the foundation's location as an insurance company office in a strip mall in Frederick.

The papers state that the foundation is in turn owned by another group, Foundation Ministries Inc., which has its legal address at the Frederick home of the Buckhams.

Dorothy Joan Morris is the name of the 79-year-old mother of a former Buckham assistant named Roger Albanese, who is described in USFN documents as collecting roughly $20,000 from the group for "program services related to prayer." She says she never authorized the use of her name for the foundation, was never told about the $150,000 donation and never saw any of the proceeds.

"What rights does he have to put that in my name?" asked Morris, who said she lives with her husband in a trailer home parked in Las Vegas. "It's fishy."

5:05 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

"It's fishy."

Sort of the understatement of the year, huh?

5:05 PM  
Anonymous AtomicKitten said...

Eat shit, Bugman.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous caligirl said...

Russians paid big bucks to him (Russian Energy Execs 1997)

Ed Buckham founded the U.S. Family Network in 1996 while still serving as DeLay's chief of staff. By 1997, Abramoff's clients, the Northern Marianas and the Mississippi Choctaw Indians, were dumping buckets of money into it. The biggest payoff was the $1 million from two executives of Naftasib, a Russian energy giant. Buckham actually admitted to the U.S. Family Network's director that the money was paid to influence DeLay's vote on an IMF loan for Russia.

Peter Stone's new piece in the National Journal reveals another bundle of money from the Russians and what they got for it. Stone reports that the Russian energy execs invested $299,975 in DeLay back in 1997, before they really took the plunge later with the $1 million. $250,000 of that came (as a reward or a bribe, I'll let you decide) just two weeks before DeLay flew to Moscow with Abramoff to see the sights with Abramoff's Russian clients.

I'll let Stone tell it from there:

In June 1997, Ed Buckham traveled to Moscow, in part to prepare for DeLay and Abramoff's August visit. "Jack was proving to the Russians that he could delegate high-ranking officials to do what he wanted," a former associate of Abramoff's said in describing Buckham's trip.

The following month, Koulakovsky, Naftasib's general manager , briefly visited the United States, attending a July 18 luncheon in Houston with about 10 oil and gas executives. DeLay was unable to attend because of obligations in Washington, so he asked his wife, Christine DeLay, to go in his place. DeLay's then-Deputy Chief of Staff Susan Hirschmann also attended. DeLay attorney Richard Cullen said in an interview that the congressman "viewed as a routine way to showcase Houston to businessmen interested in expanding trade." Cullen said he did not know who requested the meeting. The meeting has attracted the attention of federal investigators, according to a source familiar with the Abramoff probe. On July 24, a week after the Houston lunch, the network received its single largest contribution that year, $250,000 from Nationscorp/James & Sarch , according to a source familiar with the group's donations.
About two weeks later, DeLay and a few top staffers, including Hirschmann and Buckham, left for a six-day trip to Moscow that was sponsored by another small conservative group, the National Center for Public Policy Research, on whose board Abramoff later served. Abramoff joined the others in Moscow.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous donkeyotay said...

The DeLay-Abramoff Money Trail
Nonprofit Group Linked to Lawmaker Was Funded Mostly by Clients of Lobbyist

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 31, 2005; A01

The U.S. Family Network, a public advocacy group that operated in the 1990s with close ties to Rep. Tom DeLay and claimed to be a nationwide grass-roots organization, was funded almost entirely by corporations linked to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to tax records and former associates of the group.

. . .

But the records show that the tiny U.S. Family Network, which never had more than one full-time staff member, spent comparatively little money on public advocacy or education projects. Although established as a nonprofit organization, it paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to Buckham and his lobbying firm, Alexander Strategy Group.

. . .

Nine months before the June 25, 1998, payment of $1 million by the London law firm James & Sarch Co., as recorded in the tax forms, Buckham and DeLay were the dinner guests in Moscow of Marina Nevskaya and Alexander Koulakovsky of the oil firm Naftasib, which in promotional literature counted as its principal clients the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior.

6:15 PM  

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