E-mails: Reed knew tribal money funded anti-gambling campaigns

The AJC offers this perspective on the Reed-Abramoff connection that is decidedly less favorable than the WaPo story.

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff sought guidance from political strategist Ralph Reed in disguising Indian tribal money sent to anti-gambling campaigns whose leaders were wary of accepting casino cash, according to documents released Wednesday.

The e-mail exchanges also indicate that Reed knew from the beginning of his professional association with Abramoff in 1999 that a Mississippi Indian tribe with casino interests was bankrolling much of his anti-gambling activity in Alabama against a state-sponsored lottery and video poker.

Even as religious conservatives denied an alliance with out-of-state gamblers, Reed — acting on behalf of gaming opponents — submitted campaign budgets through Abramoff to the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, according to the e-mails.

The cost of placing inserts in church bulletins and organizing a rally of pastors in Alabama, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in TV and radio ads, was borne by the Choctaws, according to invoices submitted by Reed.

The e-mail records, dated from 1998 to 2002, were made public by the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which was holding a hearing on Abramoff’s dealings with his Indian clients.

The e-mails indicate that Abramoff also earmarked $10,000 in Choctaw money for Reed’s successful 2001 campaign for chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. Reed, a former head of the national Christian Coalition, is now running as a GOP candidate for lieutenant governor of Georgia, his first bid for elected office.

Lisa Baron, a spokeswoman for Reed, said Reed received only $5,500 for the party chairman’s race and that the donation was credited to Abramoff. “We had no idea that the money came from anybody but Jack,” Baron said.

The e-mails released Wednesday showed Abramoff and his Washington partner, Michael Scanlon, considered dumping Reed in 2002 in order to keep more of the money they were draining from tribal clients.