Jack Abramoff’s “charity”, Capital Athletic Foundation, was an important cog in the corruption machine.
Capital Athletic Foundation, a charity run by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff now at the center of an influence-peddling investigation on Capitol Hill, told the IRS it gave away more than $330,000 in grants in 2002 to four other charities that say they never received the money.
The largest grant the foundation listed in its 2002 tax filing was for $300,000 to P’TACH of New York, a nonprofit that helps Jewish children with learning disabilities.
“We’ve never received a $300,000 gift, not in our 28 years,” a surprised Rabbi Burton Jaffa, P’TACH’s national director, told the Austin American-States- man. “It would have been gone by now. I guess I would have been able to pay some teachers on time.”
The discrepancy also follows e-mails between Abramoff and members of his lobbying team that say then-House Republican Leader Tom DeLay of Sugar Land wanted to raise money through Capital Athletic for an unspecified purpose. In one of those e-mails, Abramoff announced a $200,000 fundraising goal.
DeLay does not recall making such a request, his lawyer, Richard Cullen, said Wednesday. Capital Athletic’s tax return does not indicate whether Abramoff reached his $200,000 goal.
But around the time Capital Athletic’s tax form was filed in fall 2003, listing the $300,000 donation P’TACH says it didn’t get, a DeLay-created charity called Celebrations for Children was begun with $300,000 in seed money.
Celebrations for Children was a short-lived effort to raise money for children’s charities by providing donors with special access to DeLay, plus yacht trips and other enticements, during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. Watchdog groups protested, claiming the fundraiser violated a new ban on accumulating unlimited “soft” money, and DeLay dropped it in
In June 2002, Abramoff told Rudy in an e-mail that DeLay wanted Capital Athletic to raise some money for him, and Abramoff suggested hitting up one of the six casino-operating Indian tribes that enriched Abramoff and a partner with $82 million in lobbying fees.
“I recommend we hit everyone who cares about Tom’s requests. I have another few to hit still, ” Abramoff wrote. “I think that, if we can do $200K, that would be good.”
Abramoff suggested that Rudy contact the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, saying, “it’ll look better coming from you as a former DeLay (chief of staff). We’z gonna make a bundle here.”
Rudy, however, made a mistake, passing off the task of approaching the tribe to Todd Boulanger, an Abramoff team lobbyist who was out of the loop.
Boulanger replied: “What is it? I’ve never heard of it.”
Rudy: “It is something our friends are raising money for.”
Boulanger: “I’m sensing shadiness. I’ll stop asking.”
Rudy: “If you have to say Leadership is asking, please do. I already have.”
When the e-mail exchange was copied to Abramoff, he replied to Rudy with an expletive-punctuated tirade: “I did not want you to bring Todd into this!!! . . . You should have followed my request to get in touch with (the tribe) directly. Dammit. Now this is out.”
Despite Abramoff’s concern, the tribe did contribute $25,000.
Capital Athletic’s tax return also shows a $50,000 donation from the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of East Texas, but that money was solicited to pay for U.S. Rep. Bob Ney’s golf outing to Scotland, said Fred Petti, a lawyer for the tribe.
That 2002 trip, financed by Capital Athletic, also included David Safavian, then chief of staff at the General Services Administration. Safavian has been charged with lying to federal investigators about his dealings with Abramoff and is scheduled to stand trial in April.