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Not quite sure what

Not quite sure what to make of this.

According to today's LATimes, Brent Wilkes (owner of Duke Cunningham) contributed more than $70,000 to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's various campaigns and campaign committees. He then got two gubernatorial appointments once Arnold became governor.

Unfortunately, appointments for big contributors is hardly out of the ordinary. With ambassadorial appointments abroad it is almost considered a given, though President Bush has done it a lot more than most.

In any case, what catches my eye is that both of Wilkes appointments were tied to the regulation of gambling, particularly horse racing tracks. Is there more here than meets the eye?

Statement just out from

Statement just out from Sen. Feingold ...

I will do everything I can, including a filibuster, to stop this Patriot Act conference report, which does not include adequate safeguards to protect our constitutional freedoms. The version of the Patriot Act that was signed today is a major disappointment. I appreciate that it includes four-year sunsets on three controversial provisions, but merely sunsetting bad law is not adequate. We need to make substantive changes to the law, and without those changes I am confident there will be strong, bipartisan opposition here in the Senate.

This isn't about stopping Patriot Act reauthorization. The President could sign Patriot Act reauthorization legislation into law tomorrow if the House would just take up and pass the compromise Senate bill that was approved unanimously in the Senate earlier this year – a bill that includes important and reasonable privacy protections. The conference committee had the opportunity to fix many of the provisions of the Patriot Act to which Americans across the political spectrum have voiced their opposition over the last four years. Unfortunately, they decided not to listen. This battle is not over.


Let me take this opportunity to remind everyone that Sen. Feingold will be guest-blogging next week at TPMCafe's Table for One, where he'll be discussing the Patriot Act reauthorization and other issues as well as responding to your questions.

Andrew Sullivan beat me

Andrew Sullivan beat me to it. That is, he linked to this sadly hilarious quote in which UN Ambassador John Bolton attacked the UN high commissioner for human rights for having the temerity to criticize US torture policies. Bolton said it was "inappropriate and illegitimate for an international civil servant to second-guess the conduct that we're engaged in in the war on terror."

Like I said, both sad and hilarious.

Check out the rest of Andrew's comments.

Last night we discussed

Last night we discussed former Abramoff business partner Adam Kidan's apparent decision to cop a plea in the SunCruz case and testify against Abramoff. TPM Reader JVO has a possible answer to my questions about the plea deal and the Boulis murder ...

Josh,

I read the Sun Sentinal article as saying that Kidan would probably cop a plea with regards to federal charges he and Ambramoff face, then deal with the state murder rap afterwards. In other words, get all the non-murder charges off his plate in one swoop by turning in Jack...then deal with the murder charges as a seperate issue.

The plea(s) wouldn't apply to the murder case, since the murder charge is state matter and the fraud/conspiracay charges are a federal matter. Kidan is probably realizing that federal "white collar" charges are the least of his worries. Why not sign a plea now and get them out of the way so he can start preparing for the big trial with the hitmen? Plus, he needs some practice at turning on Jack. Pinning that murder on Abramoff will be no easy trick in the coming months. I guess their friendship has hit the skids, huh? JVO


That makes. If anyone else has info on this, let me know.

In Roll Call this

In Roll Call this morning John Bresnahan has a piece (sub.req.) on Alan Mollohan (D-WV), ranking member of the House Ethics committee. It seems Mollohan received a bunch of campaign contributions from Mitchell Wade's MZM in addition to another company that sometimes partnered with MZM.

As Bresnahan writes:"The donations to Mollohan were perfectly legal. But the fact that the top ethics cop for House Democrats received significant sums from the company behind Congress’ biggest bribery scheme in recent memory opens him up to conflict-of-interest questions in any future ethics investigation involving MZM."

In other words, in this case, Mollohan may be the unwitting beneficiary of the GOP shutdown of the ethics committee, seeing as Duke was able to go from ethical questions to legal questions to bribery investigation to resignation and the slammer without so much as the ethics committee making a peep.

Also fair to say that even with the shutdown, Nancy Pelosi seems to have kept any Dem from so much as lodging an ethics complaint against the formerly high-flying Duke.

Oh boy. Thats not

Oh boy. That's not a good development for Jack Abramoff.

According to an article just posted in the Sun-Sentinal, Adam Kidan looks set to flip and testify against Abramoff in SunCruz case down in Florida.

A "change of plea" hearing has been set for December 15th.

Here's something I don't quite get though. As we've noted many times before, there's at least some very suggestive evidence that Kidan played a role in the death of Gus Boulis, the guy he and Jack bought SunCruz from.

Even that is a bit generous: Kidan was in a feud with Boulis that had already led to one physical altercation between the two men. Then or around that time Kidan, who has a history of mafia associations, puts three known mobsters on the SunCruz payroll, hiring them as either caterers or 'security consultants' or both. Then those three guys mow Boulis down in a gangland style hit.

You know, call me suspicious.

Anyway, here are the last few grafs of the aformentioned Sun-Sentinel piece ...

Soon after receiving the loan agreement, Foothill and Citadel released $60 million to Kidan and Abramoff's company. But Boulis maintained that he never saw a penny and the relationship with Kidan, who took over the day-to-day operations of SunCruz, quickly soured. Lawsuits and counter-lawsuits were filed and threats were reportedly made.

By November 2000, Kidan had contacted an old friend, Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello. Moscatiello had signed a contract with SunCruz to be a "catering consultant" at $25,000 a month, according to court records. Kidan said he thought Boulis was going to kill him, according to statements Moscatiello gave police. Moscatiello, a known associate of the late crime boss John Gotti, promised to smooth things over.

Moscatiello put Kidan in touch with Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, who ran "Moon Over Miami Beach," a company that, among other things, is described in records as a security firm. One of the men who worked for Ferrari was James "Pudgy" Fiorillo. In September, Moscatiello, Ferrari and Fiorillo were indicted in Boulis' murder. Kidan has not been charged in the case.

After being arrested, Moscatiello told detectives that Fiorillo traveled to his Queens home two weeks after the murder and confided that Kidan reportedly told Ferrari to kill Boulis, according to court records. Moscatiello said Fiorillo also indicated that he and Ferrari carried out the hit, the documents show. Moscatiello told detectives, "I told Adam what had happened, what I was told and he told me he never made no phone call and after Tony Ferrari told me it was a lie, I never discussed it anymore with Adam."


So Moscatiello comes in to "smooth things over" and somehow Boulis ends up dead. And one of the killers directly implicates Kidan. But in the lede, the article says that Kidan will also agree to testify against Moscatiello, Fiorillo and Ferrari, while he isn't charged with anything related to Boulis' murder.

Now, I'm sure Kidan's more than happy to testify against those dudes. But it seems to me that given the associations, context and movements of money, it would be awfully hard to see where these three whacked Boulis without also believing that Kidan wasn't part of it. Or, for that matter, Jack Abramoff, who was Kidan's partner in SunCruz.

Both guys happened to be out of the country when Boulis was iced.

Is it really possible that they pass on charging Kidan for a killing if he was the guy who ordered the hit? Or is the theory of the case that Kidan just wanted these three gents to sit down with Gus and have a talk and things got out of hand?

I know plea bargains and the logic of indictments can lead to some odd choices. But I really can't wait to see how they fit these pieces together.

Cant say I think

Can't say I think it'll say up there too long. But TPM Reader BM points out that if you go over to the RNC web site and scroll down and to the right, their top 'Upcoming Event' is the birthday or Rep. Duke Cunningham on December 8th.

I guess they just want to make clear there are no hard feelings.

A name now coming

A name now coming up more and more frequently in Abramoff investigation news is that of Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Resources.

That was prime territory for Jack Abramoff, seeing as the Resources Committee has jurisdiction over Indian tribal affairs, Pacific island territories as well as environment and natural resources -- pretty much one-stop shopping for a guy like Jack.

So I went back through our stack of unpublished Team Abramoff emails to see how often folks from Pombo's office showed up on the Abramoff skybox freebie list.

Pretty often, it turns out.

Here's what we found for the year 2000, with the event in question, the Pombo staffer and the number of skybox seats they bagged.

February 15th, 2000, Capitals/Avalanche Hockey Game Todd Willens, Legislative Director, 4 tickets

March 24th, 2000, Circus Douge Heye, Press Secretary, 2 tickets

April 30th, 2000, WWF Backlash Live Doug Heye, Press Secretary, 2 tickets

August 6th 2000, WWF Attitude (with appearances by The Rock, Triple H, The Big Show, Chyna, Chris Jericho and the Undertaker), MCI Center. Doug Heye, Press Secretary, 2 tickets

October 2nd, 2000 WWF Raw Is War, MCI Center. Doug Heye, Press Secretary, 2 tickets.

Bear in mind that in 2000, Pombo wasn't chairman, but only a junior member of the committee. After the 2002 election, Tom DeLay stunned fellow committee members by promoting Pombo to Chairman, despite the fact that he was only the 10th most senior member of the committee.

"The vote came down to Pombo and [Rep. Elton] Gallegly," wrote a local paper at the time, "but in the end, Pombo was buoyed by strong support from House Republican Leader Tom DeLay and others, said several Republicans involved in the selection process."

It looks like the

It looks like the Pacific Island component of the Jack Abramoff story is coming back to the fore. So let's review one part of that story.

Abramoff's first big gig was to defend the garment industry in the Marianas islands from any laws which would prevent them from running sweatshops that produced goods with the 'Made in the USA' label.

One of the biggest of these operations is that of Tan Holdings, owned by Willie Tan. The way their highly lucrative garment operations worked was to import labor from China and other Asian nations, set them up in barracks working up to 90 hours a week, and pay them third world wages. These clothes could then be stamped "Made in the USA" and imported into the states duty-free because the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands is a US territory.

That gave the Tan operations and others on the island a clear competitive advantage against genuine third world garment sweatshops, which can't use the "Made in the USA" label, and actual garment factories in the USA which have to abide by 20th century labor standards.

You see, there's a niche for everyone in this world.

In addition to inhuman working conditions and terrible wages, the garment workers brought to Marianas were subjected to other fun stuff like beatings and forced abortions.

Anyway, Abramoff's job was to fend off repeated efforts through the 1990s to crack down on the working conditions on the island which approached something similar to indentured servitude. And he got Tom DeLay and other Republican members of Congress to vociferously champion the cause of Marianas island sweatshops.

One of the things Tan did for Abramoff was to pay -- along with two of Abramoff's Indian clients, the Choctaw and the Chitimacha -- the fees for the skyboxes Abramoff rented at sports complexes around DC.

These are the skyboxes he used to give away freebies to congressional staffers like Mark Graul, chief of staff to Rep. Mark Green of Wisconsin as well as host fundraisers for sundry pols.

Here's the exchange of emails between Abramoff and Willie Tan in which Abramoff hits up Tan for his quarterly payment.

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