Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

As long as were

As long as we're helping the Washington Post research team find examples of the DeLay friendship after February 2001, I almost forgot about his free-mealing privileges at Signatures. We don't know if DeLay was a Signatures-Free-Mealer at Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's clip. But in May 2002 DeLay did ask Abramoff to set him, his wife and four pals up for a special table and a free meal.

UhOh more post-Feb 2001

UhOh, more post-Feb 2001 DeLay-Abramoff chumminess. This from the Times, April 3rd, 2002 ...

Mr. Abramoff's rising influence is also illustrative of another trend in lobbying: success can be built on a strong relationship between a lobbyist and a single, powerful lawmaker. His interest in raising money for Republicans and conservative causes is the foundation of Mr. Abramoff's relationship with Mr. DeLay, who is determined to meld the lobbyists on K Street here into the Republican Party's political, legislative and fund-raising operations.

Mr. Abramoff described the bond this way: "We are the same politically and philosophically. Tom's goal is specific -- to keep Republicans in power and advance the conservative movement. I have Tom's goal precisely."

Mr. Norquist, who is friendly with both men, said of Mr. Abramoff, "He walks in to see DeLay and DeLay knows that he is representing clients whose views are in sync with DeLay's views."

This came to us courtesy <$NoAd$> of TPM Reader AP.

So yesterday we asked

So yesterday we asked readers to come up with examples which belie Tom DeLay's claim -- printed unrebutted yesterday in the Washington Post -- that he washed his hands of Jack Abramoff after a confrontation in his office in February 2001.

So far we've only heard from readers who were online and willing to do a bit of research late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. But we've already got some pretty good material, a few examples of which we'll list here in reverse chronological order ...

TPM Reader JJ points us to a February 11th, 2004 piece in Roll Call that reported a power conclave at Abramoff's Signatures restaurant in which DeLay and his crew of staffers-turned-lobbyists discussed a possible crackdown on trade organizations hiring Democrats ...

At a dinner hosted by GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff a few blocks from the Capitol at Signatures - a Republican hot spot that features a drink called "The Lobbyist" - DeLay chewed over the topic with a group of lobbyists that included his own former chief of staff, a one-time top aide to Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and a trusted adviser to Hastert.


Those who attended the dinner included Susan Hirschmann of Williams & Jensen, Gregg Hartley of Cassidy & Associates, Dan Mattoon of Podesta Mattoon, and Abramoff, a lobbyist with Greenberg Traurig LLC. Paxon, now a lobbyist with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, was invited but did not attend the session.

Another reader pointed us to a June 12th 2002 piece in Roll Call about DeLay's daughter baby shower at which Abramoff and then-associate Tony Rudy were guests.

And of course there's Abramoff's continuing maxed-out donations to DeLay and his PACs after that date.

Keep sending us in examples.

WaPoWe set out to

WaPo:"'We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic,' said another U.S. official familiar with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. 'That process is being repeated all over.'"

Admittedly its Saturday night.

Admittedly, it's Saturday night. But this is a great question for collaborative research. And I suspect some of you are ready to dig in even now.

This passage comes, unrebutted, in today's Washington Post ...

DeLay's association with Abramoff clearly has become a concern for those in the majority leader's camp. In recent months, DeLay has been distancing himself from Abramoff. Earlier this year, DeLay told a group of conservative supporters at a private meeting that sometime shortly after SunCruz Casinos founder Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis was gunned down in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Feb. 6, 2001, he confronted Abramoff over his SunCruz involvement, according to people in attendance.

"Immediately, he had Abramoff called in and told him, 'I want no more dealings with you,' " said conservative activist Paul M. Weyrich, a longtime DeLay friend, recounting a speech DeLay gave to a conservative group earlier this year. "I think he felt blindsided by Abramoff" over the SunCruz affair, Weyrich said.

So DeLay has staked his game on February 6th, 2001, four and a half years ago.

There's a lot of information <$NoAd$> publicly available online. Political contributions, newspaper articles, party websites, etc. I suspect there's a lot out there about DeLay's post February 2001 chumminess with Abramoff. If you find examples, let us know.

First time as farce

First time as farce, second time as farce too?

With President Bush again stating that force is still on the table against Iran, albeit only as the last resort, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has kicked off his uphill reelection drive with an attack on President Bush's Middle Eastern belligerence.

All of this, of course, provides an uncanny replay of the build up to the US invasion of Iraq with the German Chancellor leveraging reelection on the axis of President Bush's warmongering.

(ed.note: My literary powers failed me when I tried to come up with a joke suitably humorous and grim to fully capture the ridiculousness of President Bush's continued insistence that he is willing to use force but only as a last resort. Perhaps someone out there can help?)

Theres more news out

There's more news out today about the investigation into Rep. Bill Jefferson (D) of Louisiana. The details are still sketchy, and somewhat contradictory as they emerge from articles in the Post and the Times-Picayune. But what now seems clear is that Jefferson got caught up in an FBI sting.

The Post suggests the sting centered on a high-tech start-up firm in Northern Virginia, while the hometown paper points to a much more complicated and muddled series of connections with foreign ties and trips to Africa and South America.

Whatever the details, and even if this is a sting, the two articles contain more than a bit of information that Jefferson might have gotten stung.

Sources told the Post, for instance, that one item seized in the raids on Jefferson's homes was "a large amount of cash that was kept in a freezer."

The Times-Picayune adds some details to that nugget, if pretty loosely sourced ...

Fawer [Jefferson's lawyer] disputed rumors since the raids that agents left Jefferson's Marengo Street home with a large amount of cash, perhaps as much as $500,000, and that they had timed their raids out of concern that in his then-impending trade mission to Brazil, Jefferson was providing himself an opportunity to move the money out of the country.

"That's just nonsense; it's not true," Fawer said. "I can't tell you there was no money seized, but it is not true that sums like that were taken either here or in Washington. I don't believe the money was in the six figures."

I'll be curious to hear when this investigation started or revved up.

I just promoted a

I just promoted a reader blog entry on this topic over at TPMCafe and I thought I'd raise it here too. Who's on the case when it comes to the flat tax? The FairTax Book, a piece of right-wing agitprop dedicated to abolishing the income tax and replacing it with sales taxes borne mainly by the middle class and the poor.

This certainly seems to be coming down the pike. But, like I said, who's on the case?

Yet more backstory on

Yet more backstory on Jack Abramoff, Adam Kidan and Gus Boulis and the unfortunate misunderstandings about Suncruz, from Forbes ...

But the deal was quickly mired in violence and controversy. Boulis allegedly threatened to kill Kidan, jumping over a desk and throwing punches; Kidan filed a restraining order. And in February 2001, Boulis was murdered at the age of 51 in a hail of gunfire in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (See: "Going For Broke.")

Shortly after the murder, both Abramoff and Kidan told Forbes they were out of the country when it happened. They said they had made themselves available to the police for questioning through lawyers. Yet as of yesterday, Fort Lauderdale police say Abramoff has eluded them. Though police said he is not a suspect, he is "definitely someone of interest" in the still ongoing investigation of Boulis' murder.

A reporter had mentioned to me that <$NoAd$> Abramoff had quickly volunteered that he'd been out of the country when Boulis got whacked, so quickly in fact that at different times he mentioned different countries as the country he'd been out of the country in.

Now, when Forbes says "They said they had made themselves available to the police for questioning through lawyers" does that mean that they sent word through their lawyers that they were available for questioning? Or does it mean that their lawyers were happy to answer questions for their clients -- always of course the way cops like to do their questioning?

The Forbes piece also mentions the suit that Boulis' estate filed against them after he got rubbed out ...

The suit claimed that in the weeks before Boulis' death Kidan wrote three $10,000 checks to Anthony Moscatiello, a man once indicted for racketeering along with a brother of gangster John Gotti. (The case ended in mistrial.) Adding to the intrigue was Kidan's past: His mother was murdered in the doorway of her Staten Island home in an apparent robbery attempt. Chris Paciello, a Miami night club owner and a reputed associate of the Bonanno crime family, later pleaded guilty to the murder.

Small world.

Theoretical physicists sometimes talk

Theoretical physicists sometimes talk about alternative universes. But I think I just found one right here on my website.

You may have noticed that down there toward the bottom of the sidebar we've started running google ads in addition to the regular image ads we've been running for almost two years. Unlike our regular ads, we have no control over what text ads run with google on our site. And, perhaps more importantly, the advertisers don't control where they're appearing either.

It's all run by some algorithm that scans what I write about here and then tries to come up with ads that are in some way related to what I'm discussing.

So here's where we get to our alternative universe.

Now, I know there are a lot of people in this country who not only support President Bush but are deeply committed to him at various levels. But I must say that there's still some dissonance created for me when I see that Fox Bronze Art is now selling a Bronze bust of our 43rd president, mounted on black granite, and measuring 16x10x7 inches, for only $1,995.

And if I'm not mistaken, the casting is meant to represent his heroic moment flying on to the aircraft carrier to announce mission accomplished.

What a heroic moment that was.

I think I may get one for my desk here. Or perhaps one to put with the rest of my household gods.

Like I said, an alternative universe.