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Taylor Angered By Implied Connection To Abramoff Scandal

The Abramoff-Reed Indian Gambling Scandal Has Put The Bull’s Eye On Congress.  The Press Is Digging Deep Hoping To Strike Dirt.

By Perry Hicks- Special to GCN    Filed 1/7/06

If political reporters could be likened to farmers, scandal would be the rich loam from which Pulitzer-prize stories grow.  As such, the scandal mongering press is digging deep through contributor lists hoping to strike dirt- or from some journalist’s standpoint- gold.

Gene Taylor, angered by an article, political cartoon, and op-ed in Thursday’s Clarion-Ledger, released a statement refuting any connection with the Abramoff-Scanlon-Reed-Norquist Indian Gambling Scandal:

“I don't know Jack Abramoff.  I've never met, been lobbied by, worked with, nor received any campaign contributions from him.  I wouldn't be able to recognize Jack Abramoff if he were standing right in front of me in a police line-up.  Any attempt to link me to him or his sleazy lobbying organization or the politicians that he apparently controls is misguided and untruthful.

“Like many other Mississippians who support me, Phillip Martin, tribal chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, has made individual contributions to my campaign.  These donations ($1,000 in 1999, $1,000 in 2000, and $250 in 2001) were made personally by Chief Martin and not on behalf of the Choctaw Tribe or anyone else.”

Taylor’s anger is understandable.  The Abramoff-Scanlon-Reed-Norquist scandal threatens to open up a veritable can of worms for both Republicans and Democrats.

Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D- NV) has proclaimed this a Republican scandal even though there are questions surrounding his taking of $66 thousand from Indian tribe clients of Abramoff.

Reid has stated on FOX News that "Abramoff gave me no money. His firm gave me no money. He may have worked (at) a firm where people have given me money."

Reid has also stated on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace that "Don't lump me in with Jack Abramoff. This is a Republican scandal,"

Not so.  While reports indicate representatives of both houses have receive over of $4.5 million, Republicans have received over $2.9 million and the Democrats $1.5 million.

While Republicans have benefited over Democrats by a ratio of 2 to 1, these numbers hardly leave the Democrats as clean as the new-driven snow.

This brings us back to Taylor; $2250 over 3 years averages to just $750 per year to “buy” Taylor’s vote- an accusation which is just laughable.  Besides, Taylor personally knows Choctaw chief Phillip Martin, the supposed link back to Abramoff.

In comparison, Jack Abramoff and partner Michael Scanlon have been accused along with Ralph Reed Jr. (former executive director of Christian Coalition) and Grover Norquist (former president of Americans for Tax Reform) of conspiring to defraud Indian tribes of political influence money.  The alleged take by Abaramoff & company has been estimated to be as much as $85 million.

Abramoff reportedly took tribal money his clients thought were going to his law firm and diverted it to his personally controlled accounts.  Abramoff  then did little or nothing toward “buying” for his client’s promised political influence.

While the Indian tribe scandal is serious- as many as 60 members of congress may be fingered by Abramoff for taking bribes- this issue will also be unfairly used to tar innocent members purely for political reasons.

While Abramoff has pled guilty to the charges lodged against him, he has yet to be sentenced and a deal is in play to reduce his incarceration should he expose a prominent member(s) of congress.

Considering the manner and mechanisms alleged to conduit money to corrupt politicians, the room for Abramoff to embellish or outright lie is considerable.

In Taylor’s case, he has not established a “life” in Washington, preferring to commute back and forth to his family residing within the 4th District.  Neither has Taylor concentrated on massing campaign dollars.  Taylor simply hates fund-raising.  

The Clarion-Ledger should know better.  The Ramsey Marshall cartoon implied that the entire Mississippi contingent is on the take- an irresponsible position without evidence much less, in my opinion, merit.  Virtually accusing Taylor, Lott, and others without providing hard evidence is a cheap shot and unbecoming the capitol’s “newspaper of record.”







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