Anatomy of a Slush Fund

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to read through yesterday’s Post story on the U.S. Family Network, the Post had a handy graphic that broke down the money going in and out of the fund. It is, simply put, the finest example of a GOP slush fund that you’ll ever hope to see.

There’s been a lot of focus on how Ed Buckham, Tom DeLay’s former chief of staff who ran the network, was getting rich off of it. But the point of such a slush fund is not just to get rich (although that’s certainly part of it) – it’s also to feed the political machine.

Russian oil, sweatshop labor, Indian casino, big tobacco, and political committee money goes in… and where does it go?

First, there are the general expenses of running a political machine. It financed attack ads against Democrats, paid for the townhouse used by Ed Buckham’s lobbying firm and Tom DeLay’s PAC (which in turn spread money to Republican congressional candidates throughout the country), and helped pay for Abramoff’s skyboxes.

And then there’s just straightforward personal enrichment. $1 million to Buckham and his wife, his travel costs, a Salvador Dali print, etc.

Jack Abramoff had a handful of these types of organizations (Capital Athletic Foundation, Grassroots Interactive, Eshkol Religious Academy, Toward Tradition, and the American International Center), but it seems to me that none of them were quite as successful as the U.S. Family Network. And all of them were formed later – which makes me wonder if the U.S. Family Network was his inspiration.

Here’s the graphic. Enjoy.