Let’s hope Rudy Giuliani picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal today. In its pages journalist Jeanne Cummings asks whether Ralph Reed will "become the first casualty of the Abramoff scandal?" Something for Rudy to remember when he campaigns for the onetime boy wonder’s Lt. Governor bid in Georgia next month.
Reed’s campaign, Cummings notes wryly, "is having trouble squaring his opposition to gambling with his work on behalf of Mr. Abramoff’s casino clients." Here’s the juicy backstory:
Between 2001 and 2003, Mr. Reed collected more than $4 million in fees from Abramoff clients with gambling interests, including Indian tribes. Mr. Reed’s specialty was ginning up opposition from religious leaders to tribes trying to elbow into Abramoff clients’ turf. Payments to Mr. Reed’s firm were funneled through organizations such as tax-exempt or charitable groups aligned with Mr. Abramoff, which obscured their source.
Mr. Reed’s work–and his emails–came to light last year during hearings by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and became a campaign issue. The Abramoff affair even shadowed the campaign kick-off, headlined by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. In 2002, when the two men’s lobbying firms had been on opposite sides of a Louisiana gambling fight between Indian tribes, Mr. Abramoff had bragged in an email to a colleague that Mr. Reed would get James Dobson, head of the conservative advocacy group Focus on the Family, to attack Mr. Barbour.
"Let me know when Dobson hits him. I want to savor it," Mr. Abramoff wrote in a separate email to Mr. Reed.
It’s a testament to the enduring power and blindness of the religious right that Reed is still even in this race. But at least some of his former followers, Giuliani notwithstanding, are beginning to see the light.
As a former Christian Coalition activist who quit the Reed campaign put it: "Nobody likes to be a hypocrite and nobody likes to follow a hypocrite."