Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jack Abramoff, Indian Tribes & Environmentalism?

Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty in a Miami criminal case acknowledging that he conspired to defraud lenders in the purchase of a fleet of Florida casino boats five years ago. Abramoff has also pleaded guilty before a federal judge in Washington to defrauding Indian tribe clients of millions of dollars, conspiring to bribe members of Congress and evading taxes. He is cooperating with officials and will probably implicate many members of Congress in taking bribes.

Italia Federici is president of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA) and she worked very closely with Jack Abromoff. Mr. Abramoff directed hundreds of thousands of dollars (approx $500,000) from indian tribes to CREA allegedly to influence the Department of Interior and Congress. The CREA president is being portrayed as a paid conduit for Abramoff's influence-peddling with the Department of Interior. Ms. Federici says she was just doing environmental work. A Dec. 2, 2002 email from Abramoff to Federici, publicized by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, described how he sought former Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles' help in scuttling a casino plan by the Jena Band of Choctaw, a Louisiana tribe seen as competition by his clients.

Federici is a former political aide to Interior Secretary Gale Norton and a confidante of Griles. She presented controversial testimony at a Nov 17, 2005 hearing before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, chaired by John McCain (R-AZ). In the mid-1990s Ms. Federici worked on former Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton's failed bid for the U.S. Senate. Ms. Federici partnered with Ms. Norton to create the Coalition of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (now called the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy). Sources: Source Watch, Washington Post, The Hill.
Abramoff Tribal Clients
Coushatta (Louisiana)
Choctaw Indians (Missisippi Band)
Saginaw Chippewa (Michigan)
Sandia Pueblo (New Mexico)

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