In a new story in The Hill, little-known Washington lobbyist Tom Rodgers is portrayed as the key whistleblower whose information ultimately brought down corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But it’s unclear how big a role Rodgers actually played.
And while the article says this is the first time Rodgers has come forward, he has in fact been talking publicly about his role in the Abramoff saga since at least 2008.
Rodgers, who is part Blackfoot Indian and part Irish, runs Alexandria, Virginia-based Carlyle Consulting, which has multiple Native American clients.
He told The Hill he tipped off the press, Congress, the Justice Department, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to Abramoff’s misdeeds in dealings with Indian tribes. Abramoff plead guilty in 2006 to fraud and corruption charges, with much of the case centering on his work for casino-owning tribes.
Here’s a bit of The Hill article:
He was instrumental in shining the light on one of Washington’s biggest scandals. He made Jack Abramoff a household name. But few know who he is.
Rodgers worked with members of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, the Alabama Coushatta and their cousins the Coushatta tribe of Louisiana to gather internal invoices and documents and slowly and strategically leak them to the media after first contacting the BIA.
“We were told [by the BIA] that it was an internal affair,” Rodgers recalled. “I turned to [Vice Chairman of the Louisiana Coushatta tribe David Sickey and Sprague] on a conference call one night and said, ‘Now we need to go another way. We’ve accumulated the data; we have all the information we need. We need to leak it.’ “
But The Hill‘s portrayal of Rodgers as breaking “years of silence” appears to be wrong. Here’s the article:
Tom Rodgers preferred to operate strategically behind the scenes as he played a leading role in taking down the most notorious lobbyist on K Street. But now, in an interview with The Hill, he has decided to go public with his story.
For nearly eight years Rodgers has remained cloaked in anonymity as the Justice Department pursued its case.
His ability to keep his identity secret for so many years is a testament to the insular world of Native Americans; Rodgers isn’t afraid to stand out in a crowd.
Following years of silence, Rodgers seems relieved to finally be getting the experience off his chest.
But a feature article in the summer 2008 edition of the University of Denver law school magazine — which is linked on the front page of Rodgers’ Web site — has Rodgers telling much the same story as he told The Hill. The two articles even start the same way: with Rodgers watching a Pittsburgh Steelers game in January 2003, picking up the phone, and hearing a Saginaw leader tell him, “Tom, I was told I could trust you.”
The alumni magazine article portrays Rodger as a “Deep Throat” figure who amassed incriminating evidence on Abramoff and leaked it to the media, “ultimately pav[ing] the way for Abramoff’s downfall.
Rodgers, who is reportedly featured in the new documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money, also spoke to The Hill on camera (watch below).
“We were facing people who were not Yankee bluecoats, but arrived in three-piece Baroni suits. They were the same BIA agents that we faced 200 years ago, they just dressed nicer,” he says. At the end of the interview, he breaks down while discussing what he has learned from Indian tribes.