E-mails show link between Cornyn, lobbyist under investigation
Posted on Fri, Nov. 11, 2005
E-mails show link between Cornyn, lobbyist under
WASHINGTON - Former Christian Coalition director Ralph
Reed claimed in a 2001 e-mail to a lobbyist that he
choreographed John Cornyn's efforts as Texas attorney
general to shut down an East Texas Indian tribe's
The lobbyist was Jack Abramoff, who is under federal
investigation, along with his partner Michael Scanlon,
on allegations of defrauding six Indian tribes of
about $80 million between 2001 and 2004. The e-mail,
along with about a dozen others, were released last
week as part of the investigation.
In 2001, Abramoff was working as a lobbyist for the
Louisiana Coushatta tribe to prevent rival gaming
casinos from siphoning off its Texas customers. He
paid Reed as a consultant, and Reed lobbied to get the
Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua casinos closed in Texas.
In the Nov. 30, 2001, e-mail, Reed told Abramoff that
50 pastors led by Ed Young, of Second Baptist Church
in Houston, would meet with Cornyn to urge him to shut
down the Alabama-Coushatta tribe's casino near
Livingston, Texas. He said Young would back up the
request in writing.
"We have also choreographed Cornyn's response. The AG
will state that the law is clear, talk about how much
he wants to avoid repetition of El Paso and pledge to
take swift action to enforce the law," Reed wrote. "He
will also personally hand Ed Young a letter that
commits him to take action in Livingston."
Cornyn, now a Republican U.S. senator, had filed a
lawsuit in 1999 to shut down a casino operated by the
Tigua tribe in El Paso, saying it violated the state's
limited gambling laws. In 2002, federal courts
shuttered the Tiguas' casino and Cornyn used that
ruling to shut down the Alabama-Coushuttas' casino.
Cornyn, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing,
has denied knowing Abramoff. He also has said he was
unaware of Reed's work with Abramoff. He said he did
not remember receiving a letter from Young or Reed, or
providing a letter to Young, although he acknowledged
meeting with the minister.
"Their efforts were irrelevant to what I was doing,"
said Cornyn, who was elected to the Senate in 2002.
"It's kind of eye-opening to me that apparently people
make money claiming credit for something I decided to
do under the law."
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee, led by Sen. John
McCain, R-Ariz., blocked out references to Cornyn in
the e-mails it released last week. But, in previous
Reed e-mails released by the committee, Cornyn's name
was not removed.
The previously released e-mails that showed in 2002
Abramoff and Scanlon secretly funneled millions to
Reed to help fund the campaign to get the Tigua casino
shut down. The lobbyists then persuaded the Tiguas to
hire them to reopoen it.
A Reed spokeswoman refused to respond directly to
questions about whether Reed had copies of or had seen
Young's letter, or details about how he
"choreographed" a response from Cornyn.
"No one should take credit for state Attorney General
John Cornyn's actions and the faith community's
support," Reed's spokeswoman Lisa Baron said. "Ralph
Reed never has and never will."
She said Reed did not learn the Louisiana Coushattas
were Abramoff's clients until 2002, and he was not
aware that the tribe contributed to "our efforts"
But Reed's e-mails suggest Cornyn's work was
instrumental to Abramoff in fending off competition
for his client.
Members of the Louisiana Coushatta tribal leadership
testified last week that Abramoff used the threat of
the Alabama-Coushatta casino in Texas to get more
lobbying business from the tribe.
Young said he met Cornyn for the first time at the
pastors' meeting in late November 2001 and Cornyn
spoke to about 15 to 20 pastors. He also said he did
not remember any exchange of letters occurring at the
meeting as Reed said in the e-mail.
Cornyn "told us the situation. He was filing
affidavits. We said we support you" because of the
pastors' concern about gambling, Young said.
Young dismissed Reed's suggestion that Cornyn needed
him for support in the 2002 Senate race. He said he
stays neutral politically because his church attracts
Democrats and Republicans, including Rep. Tom DeLay,
DeLay, the former House Majority leader, has been
charged with money laundering and conspiracy in a
campaign finance scheme related to the 2002 elections.
Investigators are looking into donations and an
all-expense paid golf trip to Scotland that DeLay
received after his office helped Abramoff get a
high-level Bush administration meeting for Indian
When the Alabama-Coushatta casino finally closed, Reed
summed up the political rewards in an e-mail to
"This is total victory and should lead friends in TX
to now want to launch the grassroots effort to insure
that those elected officials who stood up for families
and against the casino gambling have support this
fall," Reed said.
ON THE NET
Senate Indian Affairs Committee documents: http://indian.senate.gov