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Abramoff mum at hearing while Scanlon a no-show

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing on Wednesday on the lobbying activities involving six tribes that gave at least $66 million to two Washington insiders who peddled their influence with top Republicans.

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff appeared at the hearing but refused to answer any questions. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Public relations consultant Michael Scanlon did not attend. Senators said he was avoiding a subpoena the committee issued by dodging U.S. marshals.

Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colorado), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), John McCain (R-Arizona), Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) and Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) attended all or parts of the lengthy and crowded hearing. They all agreed that Abramoff and Scanlon abused tribal clients by not divulging their financial relationship and by deriding clients as "monkeys," "troglodytes" and other choice terms.

The panel heard from two of the tribes affected by the scandal. Richard Milanovich, chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, said he opposed working with the pair but was outvoted by council members Abramoff and Scanlon helped elect.

Bernie Sprague, subchief of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, said he has been fighting the lobbyists since 2002. He said they helped get council members elected so that the tribe could approve multi-million contracts with Abramoff's law firm and Scanlon's public relations company.

Chris Petras, former legislative director for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, testified last. In response to questions about his involvement with Abramoff and Scanlon, he repeatedly said he didn't recall his role.

The hearing is the first of several planned on the matter. The subsequent hearings will focus on the four other tribes involved.

Get the Story:
Indian casino lobbyist pleads Fifth (APl 9/30)
Scanlon �is hiding out� (The Hill 9/30)
Senate blasts lobbyist about Tigua deal (The El Paso Times 9/30)
Senate panel accuses lobbyist of defrauding Indian tribes (The Baton Rouge Advocate 9/30)
Senate panel probes claims pair bilked tribes of millions (Gannett News Service 9/30)
Lobbyist, consultant exploited tribes, senator says (The Fort Worth Star-Telegram 9/30)
Ex-Lobbyist Is Assailed at Hearing (The Washington Post 9/30)
Senate Opens Hearings on Lobbyists for Tribes (The New York Times 9/30)

Relevant Documents:
Witness List / Written Testimony

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