Take for instance the little escapade wafting out of Jack Abramoff 's lobby shop and threatening to engulf the Republican Congress. On Thursday, the mystery woman of the Senate Indian Affairs investigation, Italia Federici is scheduled to testify before the Senate Committee regarding her involvement in the Jack Abramoff/Michael Scanlon Indian Tribe rip-off. Federici it seems cut her political teeth working for Interior Secretary Gale Norton 's U.S. 1996 Senate Campaign. Take one guess who Norton 's campaign consultant was. Well, it wasn 't Kevin Bacon
Maybe someone should make up one of those games people are always playing about Kevin Bacon, except if could feature Karl Rove. It could have a schematic or some kind of visual showing Rove 's connections to all the participants in the Republican scandals threatening to swamp Washington. We could call it "Six Degrees of Karl Rove. " The way you would play is to link any character in a political scandal to Rove. For example let 's use Jack Abramoff. Karl Rove hired Jack Abramoff 's personal assistant, Susan Ralston, to be his executive secretary. Therefore, Jack Abramoff has a Rove score of 2. (Actually, I think Rove and Abramoff have a direct relationship, so Abramoff has a score of 1, but you get the idea). This could be a big hit on the Beltway cocktail circuit.
Thursday 's hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee would be a great place to play. Not only does Rove know Federici, but he is easy to connect with Ralph Reed, Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, Stephen Griles and others involved in this sordid mess. For more advanced players we could try names like Julie Finley and see if players can connect her to Italia Federici and Rove. (read more to get the answer)
On the other hand, Thursday 's hearing might not be the best place to play. Things might get a little heated and it might be hard to keep your attention on the game.
One thing is clear though. Now that it has been alleged that at Jack Abramoff 's instructions the Cushetta Indian tribe paid CREA $250,000 in exchange for assistance in setting up a meeting with Interior Secretary Gale Norton, no one could blame Republicans for doing their best to distance themselves from the organization. But that may not be so easy. According to a March 2005 article in Roll Call, Norton, who together with Federici and Grover Norquist established CREA, attended a dinner for CREA at the house of Republican rainmaker Julie Finley* in the fall of 2001. The event was attended by 60-70 people including representatives from Indian tribes, such as the Coushatta 's. This was after Norton headlined a gala event launching CREA in Washington D.C. According to a January 2001 article published in the Washington Post, the guest of honor at the event was Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and the keynote address was delivered by House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The sponsors for the gala included none other than the political consulting firm of Karl Rove. *(Game players, Finley 's bio lists her as having served as co-chair of the Republican National Committee's major fundraising arm, Team 100. She is also the national committee woman for the D.C. Republican Committee, a founding member of the Council for Republicans, chairman and founder of the Republican Primary PAC, and a founding member of the WISH List and, lo and behold, the Council for Republican Environmental Advocacy (CREA). See, it 's easy to play.)
As much as the Republican establishment might wish it wasn 't so, Federici and CREA (not to mention others in the Abramoff/Scanlon scandal) are enmeshed in the Washington establishment and connected to the Bush administration. According to documents obtained from the Justice Department by the National Resources Defense Council, CREA provided the Interior Department with public opinion research (dated 5/16/01) from focus groups in several cities suggesting how to talk about energy issues and emphasizing using rising gas prices to promote increased drilling. The research concludes, "language that . . . emphasizes price increases in gasoline and natural gas and the California situation resonates with voters and makes the case that "Gasoline price stability is the single most potent argument for opening up ANWR." I wonder if those discussions are what Gale Norton was referring to?
As for the game "Six Degrees of Karl Rove, " I 'm beginning to wonder if it 's such a good idea. Given the widespread connections of the Republican establishment in Washington D.C. to the burgeoning Abramoff/Scanlon scandal, I 'm going to need a scorecard to keep track.
John McDonald is a writer and consultant in Los Angeles. He writes a political blog called RockThrower http://www.rockthrower.blogs.com