WASHINGTON (AP) - When Jack Abramoff's lobbying team wanted to press Republican leaders for help with a tribal client, they minced no words. The help was deserved because Abramoff's clients overwhelmingly donated to Republicans.I think this about says it all. But just to make sure:
E-mails that have become important evidence in the Abramoff corruption probe state the lobbyist's team bluntly discussed with a Republican Party official using large political donations as a way to pressure lawmakers and the administration into securing federal money for the Saginaw Chippewa of Michigan.
Abramoff's team ultimately prevailed in securing federal school building money for the Saginaw, overcoming opposition from a single Republican congressional aide and a federal agency along the way. And the lawmakers who helped get thousands of dollars in fresh donations.
Federal bribery law prohibits public officials from taking actions because of gifts or political donations and bars lobbyists from demanding government action in exchange for donations.
A staffer for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Jonathan Poe, suggested Abramoff's team compile a list of tribal donations, comparing Republicans with Democrats, to help make the case for lawmakers to overrrule Kaplan, the e-mails state.
Poe's "suggestion for me was to have a list of money contributed by tribes broken down 'r' to 'd' so that I can make the cleanest argument that we are about to let the Senate Democrats take credit for the biggest ask of the year by the most Republican-leaning tribes," Abramoff lobbying associate Neil Volz wrote.
Abramoff's team obliged, creating a tally that showed his tribal clients overwhelmingly donated to Republicans - $225,000 compared with $79,000 for Democrats.
Abramoff's team devised a multi-pronged strategy.Are you nauseous yet? You should be.
Tony Rudy, an Abramoff colleague who was a former top aide to then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, reached out to his old boss' office. Rudy recently pleaded guilty in the corruption probe and is assisting prosecutors.
"I just came out of a meeting with DeLay's folks. Joel ain't budging," Rudy wrote, referring to Kaplan.
Abramoff was copied on each of the e-mail exchanges, at one point affirming the strategy. "This is brilliant," Abramoff wrote.
Abramoff's team persisted, calling the White House intergovernmental affairs office that often deals with Congress.
"Just talked to White House intergovernmental. I'm pretty sure they will weigh in. Just trying to figure out if they should call Joel or some other player in this drama," Abramoff associate Kevin Ring wrote.