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Abramoff Scandal
Abramoff used tribe's political donations as leverage


Sentenced convict Jack Abramoff and his associates lobbied Republican members of Congress into setting aside $3 million for the wealthy Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan by pointing out the tribe's donations to the GOP.

The tribe did not quality for the appropriation because it was meant to help poorer tribes build schools. But in e-mails cited by the Associated Press, Team Abramoff said the tribe deserved the money because they "are the only guys who take care of the Rs."

Team Abramoff got some assistance from a staffer at the National Republican Congressional Committee, who suggested the lobbyists come up with a list of all the tribe's political donations. It turned out that the Saginaw Chippewas donated most of their money to Republicans.

The money was placed in the 2004 Interior appropriations bill, which contained at least two other provisions favoring Abramoff's clients. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Montana), the chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations subcommittee, is now under scrutiny for his ties to the lobbyists.

The tribe has since returned the money, saying it will not move forward with the school construction project. In a letter to Congressional appropriations, the tribe cited the Bush administration's decision to cut $3 million from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to pay for Cobell attorney fee's and asked for the earmark to be used to restore the funds.

Get the Story:
E-Mails Show Abramoff's Donation Leverage (AP 4/12)
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Saginaw Chippewa Letter:
Dear Congressional Appropriators (April 6, 2006)

Vanity Fair:
Washington's Invisible Man (April 2006)

Relevant Links:
Conrad Burns for Senate - http://www.conradburns.com
Sen. Conrad Burns - http://burns.senate.gov
Montana Republican Party - http://www.mtgop.org
Montana Democratic Party - http://www.montanademocrats.org

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