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Wingnut 'choirboy' Ralph Reed tied to DeLay ally


He’s not the choirboy he wants the media to think he is.

Mr. Clean-Cut Christian Ralph Reed is strapped to the Hell Express that is Tom DeLay. Apparently Reed pocketed a cool $4 million on the Indian casino lobbying effort and it is raising some eyebrows in the religious circles as Reed tosses his hat into the lieutenant governor’s race in Georgia. (NYT):

Mr. Reed, 43, finds himself carrying some baggage: his ties to an old friend, the Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

In Washington, federal investigations of Mr. Abramoff, a close ally of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have revealed that Mr. Abramoff paid Mr. Reed’s consulting firm more than $4 million to help organize Christian opposition to Indian casinos in Texas and Louisiana – money that came from other Indians with rival casinos.

Mr. Reed declined to comment for this article; he has said publicly that he did not know that casino owners were paying for his services and that he has never deviated from his moral opposition to gambling. But the episode is a new blemish on the boyish face that once personified the rise of evangelical Christians to political power in America.

Some of Mr. Reed’s past patrons – including the Rev. Pat Robertson, the Christian broadcaster who set Mr. Reed on the national stage by hiring him to run the Christian Coalition – say his work with Mr. Abramoff’s Indian casino clients raises questions about how he has balanced his personal ambitions with his Christian principles.

Reed has been a real inside-the-Beltway artist, so it is no surprise that he’s got dirty laundry hanging out there. He rose up through the ranks as executive director of the College Republican National Committee, and was a former head of the Christian Coalition, and a top Bush campaign adviser.

He can’t claim only limited knowledge of Abramoff either; Ralphie wrote in his book Active Faith that the men became so close that Reed sometimes slept on Mr. Abramoff’s couch and later introduced Mr. Abramoff to his future wife. Oh, it gets better.

Abramoff had recruited Mr. Reed to help the Coushatta Indians of Louisiana shut down or block casinos operated or proposed by the Tiguas, in neighboring Texas, or the Jena Band of Choctaws, in Louisiana, according to disclosures by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which is investigating $82 million in lobbying fees that Mr. Abramoff and his partner, Michael Scanlon, reaped from tribes.

E-mail messages disclosed by the committee last year offered some unflattering views of Mr. Reed and Mr. Abramoff. In one, Mr. Reed forwarded potentially damaging information about Indian contributions to a politician supporting the casinos, saying, “We are getting this in the water with the right people.”

In another, he called supportive legislators his “tigers.” And he boasted of how he had gotten “our pastors all riled up” to push John Cornyn, who was then Texas attorney general and is now a senator, to close the Tigua casino. Mr. Cornyn, however, already had opposed gambling, according to a spokesman.

After a court ruled against the Tiguas’ casino on Feb. 11, 2002, Mr. Abramoff wrote to Mr. Reed in an e-mail message: “I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions. I’d love us to get our mitts on that moolah.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding