The Senate Indian Affairs Committee has sent nearly 100 pages of documents regarding ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s use of nonprofit groups to the Senate Finance Committee, opening a second avenue into Congressional probes surrounding the admitted felon, ROLL CALL's Paul Kane reports Tuesday. Excerpts:
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Indian Affairs agreed Feb. 10 to send a limited batch of files to the Finance Committee, covering how Abramoff and his network of nonprofits helped conceal a multimillion-dollar bribery conspiracy. These documents will allow Finance to engage in the probe it announced almost a year ago into Abramoff and his nonprofits. The Finance Committee said the Abramoff documents would be part of an ongoing probe into whether some nonprofits are violating laws by taking on roles beyond what their tax-exempt status allows.
Grassley and Baucus declined to spell out what was in the Indian Affairs documents, but another source who was familiar with them said there were between 80 and 100 pages of e-mails and other files related to nonprofits.The abuse of IRC Sections 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) by conservative organizations has become fairly blatant and should be addressed. I am somewhat troubled, however, by a Congressional investigation at this point. There is always the possibility that ongoing civil or criminal investigations could be impeded as a result. Criminal investigations of Norquist and Reed could lead to elected officials who are not directly connected to Abramoff, thus expanding the pool of elected officials exposed as being implicated in criminal activity. If not undertaken carefully, the Congressional investigation could turn into a form of Republican damage control.
A source told ROLL CALL that roughly 75 percent of the material sent hasn't been publicly aired.
"The committee's probe could also shine new light on the activities of two of Abramoff’s closest political allies, Grover Norquist, who runs the nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform, and Ralph Reed, the GOP activist who took more than $4 million in Abramoff cash," Kane writes. "Reed, a self-proclaimed opponent of gambling, sometimes received payments from Abramoff — money that originated from tribes who operated wealthy casinos — after it had first been routed through Norquist's anti-tax group or other Abramoff-linked entities."
The Indian Affairs probe released many e-mail exchanges between Abramoff and his two friends regarding financing of Reed's efforts to shut down casinos in the South that would have been rivals to Abramoff's clients.