As I mentioned yesterday, the pressure’s building on Grover Norquist, an even more significant player in the Republican machine than Jack Abramoff.
But I didn’t go into detail on how he collected his fees for laundering money for Jack’s tribal clients (why the laundering? Because Ralph Reed didn’t want it to be known who he was working for). Norquist’s non-profit, Americans for Tax Reform, made a pretty penny on the transactions – at least $60,000 that we know of.
There’s one transaction that’s particularly sketchy, and which Norquist has never adequately explained. In early 2000, Abramoff was trying to funnel money to Reed in order for him to start one of his anti-gambling jihads down in Alabama – the Mississippi Choctaw were footing the bill. The Choctaw’s money went to Reed (through ATR) in three payments of $300,000. Of the first $300,000, Abramoff wrote Reed in an email, “I need to give Grover something for helping, so the first transfer will be a bit lighter.” ATR then wrote a check for $275,000 – so $25,000 was Grover’s fee. But it seems Abramoff thought that fee would apply for the total of the money funneled through ATR, so when Grover took another $25,000 off the second payment of $300,000, Abramoff wrote to himself in an email, “Grover kept another $ 25K!” If Abramoff wasn’t totally expecting Grover to keep this money, it’s hard to believe that the Indians were.
When Time asked him about this last year, Norquist vaguely replied that he had permission: “He says a Choctaw representative–he can’t remember who— instructed him on two occasions to keep $ 25,000 of the money for his group.”
If the CREW complaint results in an IRS investigation, and the Senate Finance Committee really starts asking questions in their investigation of Abramoff’s shenanigans with non-profits, Norquist is going to have to sharpen up his answers. From the pieces out today, it appears that he’s decided to hunker down and wait out the storm following the complaint. Usually talkative, he didn’t respond to requests for comment, although ATR has promised an “official” reaction later. Can’t wait.