Take for instance the little escapade wafting out of Jack Abramoffs 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 Nortons U.S. 1996 Senate Campaign. Take one guess who Nortons campaign consultant was. Well, it wasnt Kevin Bacon
I know, I know, its just a coincidence. As Scott McClellan said about the outing of Joseph Wilson, Karl Rove was not involved. But Rove did work with Federici in the Norton campaign and it was Roves pal and confidant Grover Norquist who helped Federici and the future Interior secretary Gale Norton form something called the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA), which is going to be the main exhibit in Thursdays Senate Indian Affairs debacle.
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 Roves 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 lets use Jack Abramoff. Karl Rove hired Jack Abramoffs 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.
On the other hand, Thursdays 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.
It should be interesting to hear what Federici has to say. First off, there is the little matter of explaining what exactly the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA) is and does. It bills itself as an environmental organization, but it puts out press releases saying things like drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wilderness Area Refuge would be good for the environment. It also says on its website that it is a non-profit organization and it collects donations, but Bill Brunson, a spokesperson for the IRS, told the Arizona Republic that the IRS has no record that CREA has been granted tax free status as a non-profit corporation.
As much as the Republican establishment might wish it wasnt 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, Im beginning to wonder if its such a good idea. Given the widespread connections of the Republican establishment in Washington D.C. to the burgeoning Abramoff/Scanlon scandal, Im 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