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What opportune timing. Between the Bill Orr trial, trying to prove who gave him that earmark, and so many other political scandals and events, I wasn’t sure when was the right time to reveal what else we dug out of Bob Schaffer’s Congressional archive. But, now that Ross Kaminsky has started his belated by two months defense of Sweat Shop Bob Schaffer, he’s given me the right opportunity to bring this up again. I’m going to show how his attempt to get to the “truth” is the furthest thing from reality.
Media Matters is already on the case pointing out that he’s ignored Preston Gate’s involvement here, and an article referenced by the Denver Post from the Washington Post detailing how the Traditional Values Coalition worked with Jack Abramoff for quite some time to launder money.
To discount Abramoff’s involvement by saying Preston Gates is a large firm just ignores the facts. According to a lobbyist disclosure form from 1999, the first lobbyist listed for the client Western Pacific Economic Council is none other than Jack Abramoff. For 1999, there are no other lobbyists listed than those on this form or other lobbying firms working for that client or any client related to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. The database is here. The House Lobbyist database shows nothing for those clients or Abramoff until 2001 when he was with Greenberg Traurig. This is the very same Western Pacific Economic Council listed on page 2 of Schaffer’s agenda that he was to be meeting with on his first day on the islands. In later files, you’ll see Abramoff was also the lead lobbyist for this client with many others working for him.
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If we have any question of Kaminsky’s purpose or agenda, just look at who’s on his list for interviews. Bob Schaffer has been seemingly hiding in an undisclosed location and running from the press when asked about Abramoff. Isn’t it amazing Dick Wadhams will now let Bob Schaffer talk openly?
Kaminsky’s now written two pieces. His second is an interview with Andrea (Sheldon) Lafferty, executive direction of the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC). Andrea is the daughter of the founder, “Lucky” Lou Sheldon and is married to Jim Lafferty, former press secretary to Tom Delay. I’m only going to need this one article however to pop both of Ross’ balloons.
To get a little further into Abramoff’s involvement in the Commonwealth of Nothern Mariana Islands (CNMI), one need look no further than the offer of lobbying services to Willie Tan and Governor Tenorio in 1997.
The full page 1 of this email is here. Abramoff also says:
The following is an outline of each of the areas, who is in charge of them at the firm, and what they will be covering. I would be very grateful for your comments and thoughts on this approach. Of course, for each area, I will remain in charge and will be actively involved…
Page 2 of this memo contains the following:
The CNMI has many needs and thanks to the past trips, many friends on the Appropriations Committee in the Congress. Of urgent focus this year will be the affect either to defund or more likely to severely limit the activities of the Office of Insular Affairs. This office, led by Stayman has been the main source of difficulty for the CNMI.
We had considered an effort to defund and close the OIA, but we will recommend against this for several reasons. First, carrying out such an attack with success will guarantee additional hostile press articles aplenty. Second, if the department is wiped out, the Administration is free to carry on those activities in another branch and can merely transfer Stayman to that location, thereby defeating our aim. By placing restrictions, we can accomplish our goal (stopping Stayman from abusing the people of the CNMI) and make it stick.
VI. Travel Subgroup
This group will have responsibility for any trips to the CNMI or trips of CNMI officials and leaders to Washington DC. This group will be responsible to plan and schedule Teno’s February trip, as well as to work with the Hearings subgroup to plan the hearings trip.
There is no doubt that trips to the CNMI are one of the most effective ways to build permanent friends on the Hill and among policy makers in Washington…
With the cancellation of the Young trip, it would be wise for the CNMI to host a group of Resource Committee members at some time prior to the hearings.
Note, Bob Schaffer was on the Resource Committee in 1999 when he took his trip to the islands.
What was the CNMI so opposed to, and why was Abramoff working for them to hinder Stayman’s work and/or get him removed? In a recent house oversight report shows on page 2: (direct pdf link)
Mr. Abramoff’s Influence Inside the White House.
The documents show that Mr. Abramoff and his associates influenced some White House actions. In one instance, the Abramoff team persuaded White House officials to intervene to remove from office a State Department official, Allen Stayman, who had advocated reforms in the Northern Mariana Islands that Mr. Abramoff opposed. In one exchange, Mr. Schlapp e-mailed Monica Kladakis, the deputy associate director of presidential personnel, to ask “how do we fix this?” Ms. Kladakis responded: “I think we can do something about it, but I’m trying to figure out what is the best way to go about it. I don’t want a firing scandal on our hands.” Both Karl Rove, the President’s top political advisor, and Stephen Hadley, the deputy National Security Advisor, were informed of Mr. Abramoff’s opposition to Mr. Stayman.
Next, let’s get to the involvement of the Traditional Values Coalition and thus, Andrea Sheldon. The Senate Finance Committee revealed Abramoff’s use of tax exempt organizations for money laundering. In the case of another tax-exempt organization, the committee found (on page 24):
Ms. Ridenour said Mr. Abramoff believed that the ”full story” on
the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (”CNMI”)
was not getting out, so he arranged ”fact-finding” trips for employ-
ees of think tanks, Members of Congress, congressional staff, and
others. She said Mr. Abramoff asked that NCPPR become a spon-
sor so that Members of Congress and their staffs could attend and
abide by the rules. She said she had no objections because she had
gone on such a trip and it had been truly educational. ”As far as
I knew for years, he, they went, sat in a room like I did, talked
about OSHA violations, I don’t know,” Ms. Ridenour told Com-
Patrick Pizzella, a colleague of Mr. Abramoff’s at Preston Gates,
wrote to Mr. Abramoff on July 1, 1996, to explain how they
planned to funnel money to NCPPR to pay expenses related to a
trip to the CNMI.
However, as we see in emails gathered by the committee, this was also going on with TVC:
From: Abramoff, Jack (DC)
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 6:38PM
To: Abramoff, Jack (DC)
Subject FW: Bob Daum
Have checks come in for this?
From: Ralston, Susan (DC)
Sent: Wesnesday, June 14, 2000 12:28 PM
To: Abramoff, Jack (DC)
Subject: Bob, Daum
[redacted phone number]
Ralph fee $20k
From: Abramoff, Jack (DC)
Sent: Thursday, June 22, 2000 11:13 AM
To: Ralston, Susan (DC)
Subject: RE: Faith & Family Alliance
Copy all. Send TVC check to Lou. Call Grover, tell him I am in Michigan and that I have two checks for him totalling 160 and need a check back for Faith and Family for $150K. If that is OK, send over to him via courier. If you don’t get him or there are any problems, try to get me on the call constantly.
Now let’s get to Andrea (Sheldon) Lafferty who would want us to believe that she was shocked, just shocked that labor abuses and forced abortions were going on in CNMI. Her words contradict her. For instance, in this local paper, Marianas Variety, from one of her visits to the islands:
US President Bill Clinton recenty wrote a letter to Gov. Froilan Tenorio about the “alleged abuses” in the CNMI and said federal laws should be imposed.
According to Sheldon, U.S. President Bill Clinton and his political appointees are trying to gain support for the measures but he “doesn’t always get what he wants.”
“This is a very beautiful island, and so far it seems it was worth the trip.”
As well, there are documented meetings between Andrea Lafferty, Jack Abramoff, and his subordinates. In meeting with Abramoff, was she advocating for better labor standards and efforts to stop the occurrence of forced abortions? Ha!
In another case as documented by the Washington Post, the Traditional Values Coalition publicly opposed gambling yet worked with Abramoff to help internet gambling:
To reach the House conservatives, Abramoff turned to Sheldon, leader of the Orange County, Calif. – based Traditional Values Coalition, a politically potent group that publicly opposed gambling and said it represented 43,000 churches. Abramoff had teamed up with Sheldon before on issues affecting his clients. Because of their previous success, Abramoff called Sheldon “Lucky Louie,” former associates said.
One might be wondering what Bob Schaffer has to do with all of this. It’s time we got to that. As I’ve already showed, Abramoff’s strategy for his client the government of CNMI and it’s garment factory owners (remember he had both of these as clients) was to get members of congress to the Islands on trips. Trips that were, “the most effective ways to build permanent friends on the Hill”. Of course, Schaffer went on one of these trips. Another part of the strategy was to use members of the House Resource Committee, of which Schaffer was a member. You’ll recall he grilled a witness during one such hearing (pdf), (text link) thusly (on page 168):
Mr. SCHAFFER. Toppen [Mr. Jahedi’s nickname]. I appreciate your taking my call last
night. It was a nice conversation. I appreciate that.
That’s right, Schaffer called this witness the night before the hearing. Schaffer goes on to ask this witness about his involvement in a rally for workers rights:
Mr. SCHAFFER. Did you receive any money or compensation at all
for attending that rally and rounding up friends?
Mr. JAHEDI. No, sir. No, sir.
Mr. SCHAFFER. None at all?
Mr. JAHEDI. No.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Do you know any others who did?
Mr. JAHEDI. No, sir. I don’t know about that.
Mr. SCHAFFER. On my visit to Saipan just two weeks ago.
Mr. JAHEDI. Yes, sir.
Mr. SCHAFFER. I heard from two separate individuals that you
received $1,200 from a Federal official, frankly, to attend that rally.
And that you used it to help pay for food and gas and so on. Is that
incorrect or is it correct?
Mr. JAHEDI. No, sir. It’s not correct.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Okay.
Mr. JAHEDI. It’s not correct.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Do you know any others who received money to
attend that rally from any Federal officials?
Mr. JAHEDI. No, sir.
Mr. SCHAFFER. None at all?
Mr. JAHEDI. No, sir.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Let me-how about the signs that were used at
the rally. Did you make those signs?
Yeah, he’s asking about who made the protest signs. What a great use of our tax payer dollars.
In other words, here Schaffer isn’t trying to get to what should be done to improve conditions for the people of CNMI, but question the current executive branch’s meddling by the likes of Alan Stayman and the Office of Insular Affairs.
One of Bob Schaffer’s responses in recent months was that he didn’t, “observe a forced abortion.” Wow, let’s get you a junior Inspector Clueseau badge. Despite their attempts to get to the “truth” it seems Schaffer and Andrea Laffery didn’t look too hard since others found plenty of evidence. In addition to a 1998 article in the Philly Inquirer (see image), there was also Rep George Miller’s report – pdf, an interview with reporter Brian Ross, and an article in Ms. Magazine. This list goes on and on.
But, what else can we learn about Bob Schaffer’s involvement in all of this? One might look at other Jack Abramoff associates who have connections to Bob Schaffer. One of those is then Secretary of the Department of Labor and Immigration for the CNMI, Mark Zachares. This is one of the officials Schaffer met with during his trip. As well, Zachares was present at that September 1999 hearing. Later Zachares plead to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In his basis for plea (pdf) it’s revealed that:
3. ZACHARES and Abramoff became personal and professional acquaintances during ZACHARES’ tenure as an official of the CNMI.
4. No later than October 2000, during ZACHARES’ tenure as Secretary of DOLl, Abramoff and ZACHARES discussed the prospect of Abramoff finding a job for ZACHARES in Washington, D.C.
5. From in or about late 2000 through 2001, Abramoff attempted to secure for ZACHARES an Executive Branch appointment as the Director of the Office of Insular Affairs (OTA) within the United States Department of the Interior (DOT), which, among other things, administers federal funds appropriated to the CNMI, a position that was important to Abramoff’s lobbying interests.
Zachares is an interesting connection for Bob Schaffer because found in his Congressional archive is this letter from Zachares to the Office of Insular Affairs. Contained within:
First, we have received several requests from the ombudsperson to employ alien contract workers as “caseworkers/interpreters.” As you know, the federal government is prohibited by CNMI law from employing alien contract workers. Furthermore, I have been advised by U.S. Immigration that the employment of aliens as federal employees may violate federal law. I note the irony in Interior attempting to hire foreign workers while criticizing the CNMI’s alleged dependence on foreign workers. Please be advised that if the ombudsperson employs (or attempts to employ) any contract workers, we would be forced to prosecute any such violations to the fullest extent of our labor, immigration and criminal laws.
Under the system at the time, only the CNMI could create job contracts for foreign workers even to speak with and interview existing laborers. That’s a pretty neat situation to keep OAI from doing oversight. You would think that someone in charge of LABOR would want to ensure the safety and working conditions of the citizens of CNMI, but I guess Abramoff, Schaffer, and Zachares had different ideas.
They had different ideas indeed. As the next document we found in Schaffer’s archive was a Request for Statement of Qualifcations from the Saipan Garment Manufacturer’s Association to hire their own factory monitors. Playing the game is much easier when you own the refs. Convenient.
The purpose of this Request for Statement of Qualifications (RFQ) is to select a pool of qualified external monitors who can provide factory monitoring and inspection services on behalf of the Saipan Garment Manufacturers’ Association (SGMA) and/or its individual members.
Isn’t it interesting these pieces would be in his archive regarding CNMI and not anything else regarding the islands? I don’t think there’s any longer a question as to what Bob Schaffer was up to as a Congressman.
Where documents exist online, I’ve linked to them. Other sources include Bob Schaffer’s Congressional archive, various oversight commitee reports, and documents obtained from several reporters investigation Jack Abramoff in the past.
One final matter. Kaminsky alleges Dailykos is so left wing that it called the Denver Post, “so pro-republican.” The diary he’s referring to is here, written by well known Colorado blogger Davidthi808, not Markos Moulitsas or anyone on his staff. In Kaminsky’s mind if I go write a diary there about how everyone should have a pony, he’d claim DailyKos is a socialist/Marxist site that wants to redistribute the wealth by way of pony ownership.