Moral Contradictions

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Fundie Watch: Ralph Reed

Thanks to Mainstream Baptist, here's a great article titled "How the Mighty Have Fallen" about former Christian Coalition leader and current Georgia Lt. Governor hopeful Ralph Reed.

For those of you who question the existence of a fundamentalist Christian takeover of our government, consider some quotes by Reed about how he accomplishes his political will:

“I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag. You don't know until election night.”

- He helped deliver South Carolina to George Bush instead of John McCain.

- He served as Chairman of the Georgia GOP while Vietnam hero Senator Max Cleland was slandered as being in bed with Bin Laden and Hussein.

- He's being asked to drop out of the Lt. Governor race "in order to avoid a grievous, majority-wrecking split in the [state’s] Republican Party".

- Embattled Jack Abramoff secretly hired Reed to encourage moral indignation at the casino operated by the "dirt-poor Tigua tribe" in El Paso. Why? It competed with Abramoff's casinos in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“As the Tigua campaign unfolded, Abramoff and Reed exchanged e-mails that paint an unvarnished picture of their work together."

“‘I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions,’ Abramoff wrote to Reed in a 2002 message that since has been widely circulated.”I'd love us to get our mitts on that moolah!! Oh well, stupid folks get wiped out."

"’Got it,’ Reed replied."

- He also took a pleasure trip with Abramoff to Scotland... yet Reed denied any knowledge that Abramoff wanted to reopen that casino after its closure.

- He's received $4 million from Abramoff... yet didn't question where it came from. (For those who are slow like me... he acted on his moral beliefs to whip Texans against the casino to help line Abramoff's pockets... and then Abramoff turned around and gave him an enormous sum which undoubtedly came from gambling profits.)

- He may have taken in as much as $300,000 in consulting fees from Enron before it's collapse. Karl Rove recommended him for the job.

- Microsoft gave him a $20,000 monthly retainer... up until the company's refusal to support a gay-rights bill backfired.

- For those who guffaw at the words "vast right-wing conspiracy", here's this nugget:

According to the Seattle Weekly:

Reed is “now caught up in the influence-peddling scandal in D.C., which includes accusations he worked in concert with two other top Republicans also once engaged by Microsoft. One of them, Jack Abramoff, lobbied for Microsoft in the late 1990s while a member of the Seattle law and lobbying firm Preston Gates Ellis -- the firm of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' father, William H. Gates II. Abramoff is under investigation for possibly bilking millions of dollars from former Indian tribal clients and improperly using his friendship with House Speaker Tom DeLay, who is facing ethics charges and is the subject of federal investigations. Abramoff's questioned activities include a suspected money-laundering scheme that involves both Reed and fellow Microsoft adviser and lobbying superstar Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform.

Reed, Abramoff and Norquist “go way back,” the Seattle alternative newspaper reported.

They met during the 1980s as leaders of the College Republicans. Norquist was Abramoff's campaign manager in a successful election as chair of the national campus organization. Later, Reed led the group. Abramoff, a self-described ultraconservative Orthodox Jew, and Norquist began ascending with the 1994 Republican revolution in Congress. They launched what was called the K Street Project to persuade lobbying firms to increase their Republican connections; Abramoff lived across the street from a Preston Gates partner, who quickly hired him. Norquist, a close ally of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, that year helped draw up the GOP's (ultimately voided) "Contract With America." Reed, meanwhile, became a Bush campaign official and private consultant after leaving the Christian Coalition in 1996...

Norquist also worked with Abramoff to lobby for the sweatshop industry in the Northern Marianas, a Preston Gates Ellis client, according to a report in The New York Times last week. That work is a target of several investigations. Senate investigators also want to know about the roles of Reed and Norquist in an alleged 1999--2001 scheme by Abramoff to funnel Indian casino gambling money through Norquist's organization to pay for an anti-gambling campaign run by Reed in Alabama. According to Senate testimony and reports in The Boston Globe and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Norquist confirms he passed the money to Reed. Reed, who says gambling is a sin, thought the money came from tribal industries, he says, not casino operations. Reed and Abramoff have turned over some records to Senate probers while Norquist's documents had to be subpoenaed.

I always had this question about the former head of the Christian Coalition... why run for political office, especially the Lt. Governor of Georgia?

Reed was no doubt looking ahead to future electoral challenges when he decided to run for the lieutenant governor’s position. Marshall Wittmann, who worked with Reed at the Christian Coalition but now works for the Democratic Leadership Council, told the Associated Press that he thinks Reed wants to be president.

"He knew he couldn't go from the Christian Coalition, so he became a political consultant, then Georgia GOP chairman, then coordinator for the Bush campaign. The next logical step is to win a political office. This is what's available, but it's clearly a stepping stone to higher office," Wittmann said.

I'd be intrigued to see how his supporters defend him, especially after this article. Until then, Ralph Reed is charged with a Moral Contradiction.

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