Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 5 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

The Bush-DeLay-Indian Casinos Trail of Mirrors Campaign Money Laundering Operation

The Bush-DeLay-Indian Casinos  Campaign Money Laundering Operation

(Wampum ‘til they’re dead)

 by Laurence A. Toenjes


Congressman Tom DeLay , a.k.a. “The Hammer”, has been at the center of two investigations recently by the House Ethics Committee.  In each case, and within the span of approximately one week, a letter of reprimand was sent to Mr. DeLay. These actions resulted from unanimous decisions by the 10 member committee, which is made up of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats.  In addition, three close associates of DeLay were recently indicted in Texas for activities related to improper use of corporate funds in state elections and in laundering corporate money for use by Republican candidates for the Texas House of Representatives. To top it off, two of Mr. DeLay’s closest personal and political associates, Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, are at the center of a federal investigation into the possible improper acquisition of some $66 million from several Indian tribes that operate gambling casinos. This investigation was undertaken at the behest of Senator John McCain.


The purpose of this paper is to connect the above dots, revealing a pattern of associations and payments that begins with Congressman Tom DeLay and ends up on the very doorstep of President Bush’s re-election campaign.


The largest single flow of monies into the DeLay nexus is from the set of six Indian tribes who “hired” Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon to help promote the tribes’ interests.  Talk about letting the fox in the hen house! So far the tally of funds that they managed to extract from the tribes is at $66 million and counting. This is the amount  estimated by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to have been paid to Scanlon alone. Much of this was kicked back to Abramoff, who also received millions directly from the tribes as well.


Only relatively modest amounts of those monies have thus far been traced to Tom DeLay and his PACs, or to major Bush supporters.  However, there is enough evidence to draw monetary links among some of these major political players. (see diagram below)


Jack Abramoff received at least $21 million in tribal monies during the period April, 2001 to October, 2003, paid to him by Scanlon from the $66 million he had received from the tribes.  Abramoff is a major Bush supporter, listed on the website of Texans for Political Justice (TPJ) as a Bush Pioneer in 2004. The Pioneers are scouts responsible for bringing in at least $100,000 to the Bush war chest.


Ralph Reed, now a lobbyist and director of President Bush’s re-election campaign in the Southeastern U.S. , was earlier the executive director of the Christian Coalition.  Mr. Reed, at one time a staunch opponent of gambling, has reportedly received $4.2 million of the Indian casino money, albeit laundered by Abramoff and Scanlon so that he can continue to maintain that “we have never represented or worked for a casino company”.


Reed is listed on the TPJ website as a Bush Ranger, which puts him in the $200,000-plus category.


Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi was a lobbyist for the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care in 2002  when the Alliance contributed $100,000 to Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC). TRMPAC was established by DeLay to raise money to help elect a Republican majority to the Texas House of Representatives.  This effort was supremely successful, and was part of DeLay’s audacious plan to redraw Texas ’ Congressional districts with the ultimate goal of electing an additional 6 or 7 Republicans to Congress in the fall, 2004 elections. 


Those elections have not yet occurred, but already the Travis County District Attorney, Ronnie Earle, has indicted 3 of DeLay’s closest associates who worked for TRMPAC.  They assisted in soliciting corporate contributions and distributing them to Republican candidates for the House.  The use of corporate funds in political campaigns in Texas elections is illegal, except for payment of mundane overhead costs, such as utilities. In addition to the 3 individuals, 8 corporations were also indicted, including The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care. Their lobbyist at the time, Haley Barbour, was an aspiring Bush Pioneer in the 2000 election cycle, although according to TPJ he missed reaching the $100,000 goal.


Mike Scanlon at one time was a staff member and spokesperson for Tom DeLay, playing a key role in DeLay’s earlier successful drive to impeach President Bill Clinton. In October, 2002, Scanlon sent $500,000 to then-candidate for Governor of Alabama, Bob Riley. These funds apparently flowed through the Republican Governors Association and the Republican National State Elections Committee, increasing to $600,000 by the time Riley received them. Riley won a narrow victory and became Alabama ’s Governor.


Why was Mike Scanlon so interested in the successful candidacy of Bob Riley in Alabama ?  In addition to the fact that Scanlon was an ex-press aide to Riley, it seems that Riley’s opponent in the race, the incumbent Don Siegelman, was intent on opening up Alabama to casino gambling.  Since the Alabama border is only about an hour by car from the Mississippi Choctaw tribe’s casino, this possibility posed a threat to the Choctaws’ casino revenues, from which Scanlon was benefiting. Hence a victory for Riley was a victory for Abramoff, Scanlon, and the Mississippi Choctaw Indians.


There is evidence that the Mississippi Choctaw Indian Tribe contributed $6,000 directly to DeLay’s TRMPAC, at the suggestion of Abramoff. Another $18,000 went from the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan to DeLay’s ARMPAC.  A tribal official from another Indian tribe has asserted that Tom DeLay helped shake loose $3 million from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to pay for a school for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, presumably as a favor to his long-time supporter and accomplice, Abramoff.


Governor Haley Barbour is also reported to have received $35,000 from the Mississippi Choctaw Tribe in 2003.


Final result: Indian casino money has helped to elect two governors, and is contributing to the attempted re-election of President George W. Bush.


The following diagram illustrates some of the linkages just described. 




On September 29, 2004,the Senate Indian Affairs Committee held their first hearing into the apparent scam of the Indian tribes perpetrated by Abramoff and Scanlon. Both men were subpoenaed to testify, but only Abramoff showed up.  However he invoked the Fifth Amendment repeatedly until finally the Committee grew tired and excused him.  There was a light moment, though, during the testimony of Chris Petras.  Mr. Petras was the legislative director for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan during 2002-2003.  Generally Mr. Petras had very poor recall throughout his testimony.  But at one point he was asked “Have you ever had your picture taken with key staff at the White House?”


After some hesitation, Mr. Petras replied: “I don’t know about ‘key staff’.  We had our photo taken with the President.” He later admitted to having his picture taken also with Karl Rove. The occasion for the White House reception was to give recognition to the tribe for one or more contributions to an organization named The Republican Eagles. Mr Petras was unable to recall exactly how much was given, though, or how many contributions were made—at least $10,000, it seemed.


One exhibit on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee website is a reproduction of a memo from the same Chris Petras to tribal Chief Maynard Kahgegab, Jr. and Councilman Robert Pego, Sr, dated 08/05/02. Mr. Abramoff had earlier made suggestions as to where certain contributions might be made that would somehow benefit the tribe.  This memo was a reminder of one of those suggestions, and a smoking gun, of sorts: 




This is the reminder you requested regarding the request for support of the Capital Athletic Foundation in Washington , D.C. by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan.  The Foundation creates programs that teach leadership skills to disadvantaged youth in the DC-area in an effort to keep them off the streets and enhance their educational opportunities.


The Foundation request is for $25,000.  If the Tribal Council votes to support the Foundation and assist in bringing youth development programs to disadvantaged youth, the check may be written as follows:


Capital Athletic Foundation

1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Suite 600

Washington , D.C.


Respectfully [Chris Petras]


The Capital Athletic Foundation referred to in this memo was totally under the control of Jack Abramoff.  It has been estimated that only one percent of receipts to it were ever used for local youth athletic activities.  The following year, 2003, there was a $25,000 contribution from the CAF to The DeLay Foundation for Kids, Tom DeLay’s personal charity for abused and neglected children. This is the fund which DeLay supports by inviting various groups with interest in pending legislation to participate in private golf outings with himself and other Congressmen. In 2003 one such outing raised a reported $1.1 million.  The participants/contributors have never been publicly identified.  It is rumored that a single contribution at a similar event in 2001 was for the amount of $250,000.


The article by R. Jeffrey Smith (Washington Post September 28, 3004) is particularly relevant at this point. The following excerpts are taken from that article:


“After Abramoff became their lobbyist, three tribes—the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana —contributed more than $2.02 million to the Capitol Athletic Foundation, according to foundation tax records…”


“Saginaw Chippewa officials have told federal investigators that they made the donations because Abramoff told them it would impress DeLay, a fellow golf buff whom Abramoff described in a 1995 letter to Arnold Palmer as his “very close personal friend.” “


“The tribe donated $25,000 to the Capital Athletic Foundation in 2002 and another $25,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee the following year, tribal attorney Henry Buffalo said.  The lawyer said tribal leaders assumed that if they gave money, “Mr. DeLay would recognize that in some way,” and if they needed legislative help “Mr. DeLay would be able to look on that more favorably than not.” “


“DeLay has also shown support for causes important to Abramoff’s clients.  A source close to Abramoff who asked not to be named because of the continuing grand jury investigation said Abramoff lobbied DeLay’s office to organize a June 2003 letter—co-signed by DeLay, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo) and Deputy Whip Eric I. Cantor (R-Va)—that endorsed a view of gambling law benefiting the Coushattas’ desire to block gambling competition by another tribe.”


The letter referred to in the last paragraph can be found at .


Another meeting of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is scheduled for November 17. The recently released book, The Hammer, by Lou Dubose and Jan Reid provides a good background for this ongoing saga. Democrat Richard Morrison is currently contesting Tom DeLay in his home district, and can use all the support he can get.  Additional information can be found on his website , and at .


It is not pretended that this topic has been dealt with comprehensively here. Rather, the much more modest goal was to merely show that many of the facts can indeed be lined up in such a way that the real meaning and purposes of these many machinations become evident. With time and effort many more pieces to this puzzle will be found and fitted together. The ultimate picture may not be a pretty one.


Details on the various monetary linkages shown in the diagram are presented below.



Data Sources for Funding and Influence Diagram


The information embodied in the diagram was obtained from newspapers and other articles, most of which were available on the Web. Much of the information was collected by the original authors from Web sites which publish official election campaign data which are required from candidates for public office. Other information was obtained by reporters’ interviews of various persons involved or persons familiar with the issues. The numerals refer to the small circled numbers identifying the linkages in the diagram presented previously.


1. Lobbying and public relations fees from various Indian tribes to Abramoff and Scanlon.



2. The $4.2 million paid to Ralph Reed from monies received by Mike Scanlon and Jack Abramoff from various Indian tribes was reported in the Houston Chronicle, September 26, 2004, p. B9.


3. $6,000 reportedly contributed by the Mississippi Choctaw Indian tribe to DeLay’s Texas PAC, TRMPAC (Texans for a Republican Majority PAC).

Source: Lou Dubose, originally in, but taken from

$18,000 was sent from the Sagniaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan to DeLay’s leadership PAC, ARMPAC (Americans for a Republican Majority PAC).


4. This link is based on an allegation that Congressman DeLay made a call to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to shake loose  $3 million for a school to be built for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe. This is partially confirmed by Keven Gover, former director of the BIA during the Clinton administration.  Gover was quoted as saying that he did not know if such a call was made by DeLay, but that “the bureau was pressured by someone in Congress.”

Source:  Transcript of NPR story “Profile: Congress and FBI investigate two well-connected Republican political operatives,” September 27, 2004.


5.      See number 4 above.


6. The following paragraph was taken from;sid=04/05/24/11221013;cid=6

The article originally appeared in the Washington Post.

 Sometime in October of 2002, payments totaling $500,000 were made by Scanlon's firm to the Republican Governors Association. The RGA had just split off from the Republican National Committee to become a 527 organization, able to collect large "soft money" contributions from all sorts of sources. Enter another Republican Party soft money entity, the Republican National State Elections Committee. Records, which only came to light this year, show that the RGA made contributions of around $2.5 million to the RNSEC late in October. The money trail ends here, with contributions worth $1.2 million paid out by the RNSEC right before the 2002 Alabama elections. Half of the money went to the Alabama Republican Party, and half went directly into Riley's campaign


7. See item 6 above.  According to that account, half of the $1.2 million, or $600,000 was paid by the RGA to Governor Riley’s campaign fund.


8.  The $100,000 contributed by the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care to TRMPAC was widely reported as part of the announcement by Travis County Ronnie Earle regarding the indictments against three associates of Tom DeLay and eight corporations. It was reported much earlier in the Austin American-Statesman, December 10, 2003.


9.  The $10,000 contribution consisted of two $5,000 contributions to ARMPAC in 2002, one from Jack Abramoff, the other from Pamela C. Abramoff.


These contributions were made in April, 2002. According to Smith in the Washington Post article cited previously, “Since 1997, Abramoff and his wife have contributed $40,000 to DeLay’s political action committees…”


10.  The $1,504 payment from ARMPAC to Jack Abramoff for “food and beverage” was listed in

This payment was made in June, 2003.


11.  According to the Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) website, Jack Abramoff is a Bush Pioneer during the 2003-2004 election cycle, which means he has raised or will raise at least $100,000 for the President. See


12.  Ralph Reed is listed on the TPJ website as a Bush Ranger for the 2003-2004 election cycle.  Rangers are committed to raise at least $200,000 for the President’s re-election campaign. See .


13.  Haley Barbour is listed as a Minor Pioneer for Bush in the 2000 election cycle, meaning he did not hit the $100,000 goal, according to the TPJ website. See .


14.  This $35,000 contribution to Mr. Barbour was reported in The Clarion-Ledger Business at .

Laurence Toenjes is retired from the University of Houston ’s Department of Sociology where he was a researcher with The Sociology of Education Research Group.  That work included research and evaluation projects for school districts in the Houston metropolitan area and the Texas Education Agency. Dr. Toenjes was involved in school finance analysis in Texas beginning in 1989, and has also participated, as a private consultant, in school finance policy analyses in several other states. A primary interest of Dr. Toenjes is the development and use of interactive computer graphics software to display and analyze school finance and student performance data and the use of such techniques to communicate findings to policy makers.Recently he has become interested in exploring ways in which quantitative methods might contribute to understanding the relationships among the various forces and interests involved in the formation of US security policy. Dr. Toenjes received his doctorate in economics from Southern Illinois University.  This article is originally published at Copyright Laurence A. Toenjes, but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached


Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines