Had to laugh seeing that yesterday's piece in the Houston Chronicle used the same (IMO obvious) intro for this story:
WTIH FRIENDS LIKE THESE ...
E-mail unearthed in Abramoff investigation reveals the contempt in which lobbyists held the Christian conservatives they wooed as allies
Nov. 11, 2005, 7:39PM
Two federal investigations of the activities of Washington, D.C., lobbyist Jack Abramoff provide a window into the mindset of the cynical group of influence peddlers that received $45 million from Indian tribes to further their gambling interests.
Judging by the sentiments of Mike Scanlon, a former spokesman for U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, and Abramoff's secret partner, conservative Christians provided an essential and unwitting tool in the lobbyists' fight in Louisiana on behalf of the Coushatta tribe against rival gambling operations. Scanlon composed a memo in October 2001 that he sent to Coushatta lawyer Kathy VanHoof and Abramoff describing the role religious radio could play in the effort:
"Simply put," Scanlon wrote, "we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them. The wackos get their information from the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the Internet and telephone trees."
Scanlon detailed a strategy to advertise on Christian radio against proposed casinos at Delta Downs and Pinnacle. "We will produce and air at least two radio ads that give biblical reasons why [the casinos] should be blocked and the tracks shut down." Scanlon recommended providing $575,000 for "solidifying the support of the Christian conservatives and the minority religious outlets of SW Louisiana."
The Coushatta tribe also paid former Christian Coalition director and Bush presidential campaign strategist Ralph Reed $1.2 million to work against competing gambling operations. Scanlon pegged the cost of the entire operation to defeat the casinos at a little more than $3 million. The ultimate objective was "to control both houses of the state legislature and the governor's mansion." Scanlon grandly boasted the program could make his clients the dominant political force in every district in the state.
The irony of Scanlon's strategy was that he used covert money contributed by one gambling interest to mobilize religious voters to vote against other gambling operations. This manipulation was politics at its ugliest and most deceitful and was laced with the lobbyist's contempt for the very people he was wooing.
Responsible religious leaders should look closely at the FBI and Senate investigations of Abramoff as they unfold. It will help them to keep from becoming the pawns of cynical political operators. Meanwhile, congressional leaders who have put the machinations of such lobbyists above the public interest should feel their shame.