GQ: Reed, Abramoff Discussed “Mortgaging Old Black People”

Ralph Reed’s primary is only a week away and things are heating up.

In advance of its August publication date, GQ has released a big piece on Ralph Reed today, with one gem in particular: a plan hatched by Reed and Jack Abramoff which sounds suspiciously like “mortgaging old black people,” as a former Reed associate told the magazine.

In July of 2003, Abramoff and Reed considered launching something called the Black Churches Insurance Program.

We know how this scheme would have gone, because Abramoff pitched something similar to a cash-strapped Texas tribe, the Tigua. Basically, since the tribe couldn’t pay Abramoff, he offered to arrange “a life-insurance policy for every Tigua 75 or older.” When those elders died, the death benefits would have gone to Abramoff through one of his non-profits. The Tigua didn’t take Abramoff up on the offer, but it was too good of an idea to let go.

So Abramoff apparently thought black churches were a good target. This would have been the same thing, according to GQ’s Sean Flynn, except that it was African-Americans. Or as “a former associate of Reed’s” told GQ, “Yeah… it sounds like Jack approached Reed about mortgaging old black people.”

According to Abramoff’s email exchange (under the subject line “Black Churches insurance program”) with Reed in July of 2003 pitching the idea, it would have been huge:

Per our previous discussion, Abramoff wrote. Let me know how we can move forward to chat with folks who can set this up with African American elders. It can be huge. Thanks.

A file called “Charity Elder Program2.doc” was attached.

Three days later, Reed replied: Yes, it looks interesting. I assume you’ll set up a meeting in DC as a next step, or whatever we should do next, let me know.

Reed would have been the point man with the church leaders, one assumes, ushering them through the sticky process of getting all of their elders to sign up for life insurance policies payable to Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed.

Reed’s flack’s response to the story was as off-point as always:

Reed’s communications director, Lisa Baron, initially said, “Your sources are wrong,” but not how or in what way. A day later, she notably did not say those sources were wrong. Ralph receives unsolicited requests of a political or business nature all the time, she wrote in an e-mail. Our records show no meeting took place to discuss the proposed project. Ralph had no involvement whatsoever in marketing such policies to African-American churches.

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