Prosecutor Scrutinizes Ralph Reed

From Holden:

Ralph Reed’s Abramoff-connected lobbying in Texas has garnered the attention of my county prosecutor.

The Travis County attorney [David Escamilla] is reviewing a criminal complaint accusing the former head of the Christian Coalition of failing to register as a lobbyist when he was being paid millions to influence gambling issues in Texas on behalf of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Three government watchdog groups filed the complaint Thursday against Ralph Reed, who left the Christian Coalition in 1997 to become a political consultant. He is now a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Georgia.


Failing to register as a lobbyist is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $4,000 and up to one year in jail. Under Texas law, a person must register if paid to directly communicate with state officials, lawmakers or staffers to influence legislation or encourage an administrative action by an agency.

The complaint, filed by Common Cause Texas, Public Citizen and Texans for Public Justice, claims that Abramoff and his lobbying partner, Michael Scanlon, hired Reed in 2001 to lobby Texas officials to shut down the Tigua Indian tribe’s Speaking Rock Casino near El Paso and to defeat legislation that would have kept it open. The Louisiana Coushatta had hired the lobbyists to eliminate competition from Texas casinos.

Reed declined to personally respond to the charges.


The Texas complaint cites e-mails among Reed, Abramoff and Scanlon that surfaced during hearings by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

“Mr. Reed’s own correspondence appears to indict him,” said Suzy Woodford, director of Common Cause Texas.


In one e-mail, Reed asked Abramoff, “Get me details so i can alert [former Texas Attorney General/current Texas Senator John “Turtlelove”] cornyn and let him know what we are doing to help him.”

In another, Reed warned Abramoff that the Tigua Indians were making big donations to candidates: “Tiguas gave candidates more than $500,000 we’re getting this in the water with the right people.”


As Cornyn pressed his case in court for closing the casino, Abramoff suggested in an e-mail to Reed in 2002 that legislation be filed in Texas and Alabama to deny state contracts to any vendor providing goods or services to a casino: “Let one of our tigers go get em.”

Reed wrote back: “Easy to get our tigers to introduce that in both places.”

In a March 27, 2001, memorandum, Reed laid out a strategy for defeating Texas legislation that would keep the Tiguas in the casino business. He stressed targeting members of the Texas House Calendars Committee, who schedule bills for floor votes.