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1990Nonprofits laundered cash for Abramoff: Senate panel

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  • Greg Cannon
    Oct 13, 2006

      Nonprofits laundered cash for Abramoff: Senate panel

      By Andy Sullivan Fri Oct 13, 1:07 AM ET

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Five conservative nonprofit
      groups laundered money and wrote opinion pieces for
      disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and sold their
      influence with U.S. government officials, according to
      a Senate report.

      The Senate Finance Committee said in the report
      released on Thursday that the five groups probably
      violated their tax-exempt status by working closely
      with Abramoff, the lobbyist at the center of a growing
      corruption scandal.

      "These tax-exempt organizations engaged in what
      amounted to profit-seeking and private benefit
      behavior inconsistent with their tax-exempt status,"
      said the report, which was prepared by the Democratic
      committee staff and approved by its Republican
      chairman, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley (news, bio,
      voting record).

      By abusing their nonprofit status, "these tax-exempt
      organizations appear to have perpetrated a fraud on
      other taxpayers," the report said.

      The five groups named in the report are Americans for
      Tax Reform, headed by influential conservative
      activist Grover Norquist; the Council of Republicans
      for Environmental Advocacy, which was founded by Gale
      Norton before she became Secretary of the Interior;
      Citizens Against Government Waste, which fights "pork
      barrel" spending; the National Center for Public
      Policy Research, a think tank; and Toward Tradition, a
      religious group.

      According to the report, some of the groups laundered
      money from Abramoff's lobbying clients and took
      payments to write newspaper opinion pieces. Some took
      payments from Abramoff's lobbying clients in return
      for introducing them to prominent Bush administration
      officials, while others underwrote trips for members
      of Congress that were actually paid for with money
      from Abramoff lobbying clients.

      All except Toward Tradition told The Washington Post
      that they have done nothing wrong.

      Abramoff and several associates have pleaded guilty to
      conspiracy and fraud in an influence-peddling scandal
      and are cooperating with investigators in the Justice

      Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney (news, bio, voting
      record) has agreed to plead guilty to illegally
      accepting trips, meals, drinks and tickets from
      Abramoff and his lobbyists and was due to appear in
      court later on Friday to formally enter his plea.
      David Safavian, a former Bush administration official,
      was convicted in June of lying about his links to

      Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas
      Republican, resigned from his seat in June after his
      close ties with Abramoff were made public.