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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Just to refresh everyone's memory about what happened last week, three reputed mob soldiers were arrested in Florida for the February 2001 gangland-style murder of Gus Boulis, founder and one-time owner of Sun Cruz, the Florida casino boat line. Jack Abramoff and Adam Kidan muscled Boulis into selling them Sun Cruz. And it is for fraud in that acquisition that both were indicted last month.

That's all known.

It's also been a matter of public record for more than four years that around the time of Boulis's murder, for no clear reason, Kidan paid roughly a quarter million dollars to one of those three men now under indictment for the crime. For that and other reasons, those of us who live in the world where gravity always pulls down and never up, can probably conclude that the cops believe Kidan's are somehow dirty in this matter.

In any case, here's the point I haven't seen discussed at any length. That money did not come out of Kidan's pocket. He may have authorized the payments. But those checks came from Sun Cruz itself, the company Kidan and Abramoff then co-owned.

Articles on this subject almost always throw in a line to the effect that no one suspects Abramoff himself of knowledge or involvement in Boulis's death. And I know of little tangible to contradict that. But he was the co-owner, with Kidan, of the company which made the tainted payments. And Abramoff and Kidan were in pretty close and regular contact in how they used Sun Cruz's money for the DC lobbying operations. At a minimum Abramoff might be able to shed some light on whether there is some innocent explanation for the money that went to the guy who's been indicted for Boulis's murder.

In any case, the a priori blanket exoneration does seem a bit more total than journalists would normally grant in such cases.

As far as I know, too, the local police investigating the crime have still failed in their efforts to get an interview with Abramoff to find out what he might know about Boulis's death.

I have to step away for the afternoon to work on a talk I'm giving. But filling in will be TNR's Michael Crowley who knows more than a thing or two about the DeLay Machine.

Coming soon: more funny-money developments bubbling up out of the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming litigation.

A special thanks to everyone who came to the Serenity screening last night in Union Square. We had a full house. And the movie was a lot of fun -- even for this guy who'd only seen a few episodes of Buffy and never even heard of Firefly. Everybody I talked to after the screening loved it. Not high concept exactly, or maybe more of the concept would have been discernible if I'd seen the series, but fast-paced, electric and exhilerating. Sort of a mix of the Matrix, with Total Recall, various Harrison Ford movies, dystopic science fiction and the language and moral outlines of old-fashioned westerns. It ran about two hours but felt like about twenty minutes.

Kevin Drum has a post this morning which poses the question, who ratted out DeLay and Co. in Texas. And he suggests it may have been the corporations whose money was in play rather than any of the operatives.

I have no knowledge of the particulars. But to me that sounds like a very good surmise. Most of the soldiers will stay loyal until their own lawyers explain to them the multi-year prison terms. The point of weakness is the coerced money -- half non-ideological business investment, half protection racket.

And it suggests another point, something we're sure to see coming down the pike. The whole DeLay political machine has been built on the compliance, cooperation and cooptation of big corporations and trade groups who have little ideological truck with DeLayism. It's a business decision -- partly a protection racket. It's not only paying in big sums of money but also hiring DeLay soldiers on instruction.

With DeLay swirling down the tubes, who's going to start calling out those companies, the ones who've followed orders to hire and pay big salaries to DeLay operatives? Is it still good for business to be funding DeLay's operation? Especially when the spotlight falls on particular companies?

Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH) returns DeLay money. They've almost all taken it. Who else will be pressed to give it back?

Who will bag tomorrow's big story: what happened inside that House GOP caucus meeting this afternoon? Just what issue torpedoed David Dreier after Speaker Hastert had given him the nod? What about the folks outside the meeting? Rove weighed in. What did he say? Time for DeLay to go? How about Spongebob nemesis James Dobson? Would he not abide David Dreier?

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