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E-mails show link between Cornyn, lobbyist under investigation

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.dfw.com/mld/startelegram/news/state/13145179.htm Posted on Fri, Nov. 11, 2005 E-mails show link between Cornyn, lobbyist under investigation SUZANNE
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 13, 2005
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      http://www.dfw.com/mld/startelegram/news/state/13145179.htm

      Posted on Fri, Nov. 11, 2005

      E-mails show link between Cornyn, lobbyist under
      investigation

      SUZANNE GAMBOA

      Associated Press

      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
      casino.

      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"
      until 2004.

      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,
      R-Texas.

      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
      clients.

      When the Alabama-Coushatta casino finally closed, Reed
      summed up the political rewards in an e-mail to
      Abramoff.

      "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
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