Monday, April 18, 2005

The wheels on the cash go round and round

Ralph Reed's Zeal for Lobbying Is Shaking His Political Faithful

"In 30 years of culture wars, few conservative Christian standard bearers have traveled further in American politics than Ralph Reed. The former head of the Christian Coalition has been a high-priced communications consultant, a top Bush campaign adviser, chairman of Georgia's Republican Party and now a candidate for lieutenant governor here.

Campaigning in early April at a Republican district meeting outside Atlanta, Mr. Reed talked of his small-town roots in northeast Georgia.

'I'm not going to forget where I came from,' he said. 'I am not going to forget what I stand for.'

But as he completes his journey from Christian advocate to professional politician, 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."

Let's see...the casinos pony up wads of cash for the righteous Mr. Reed to battle against Satan's efforts to establish (Native American) casinos. Whatever happens to fall out of Big Ralph's pockets ends up in the coffers of The All-American Family Chastity Counsel or the USA ChristoRepublican Heritage Center to Scourge the Seven Deadly Sins or some similar cabal. In an effort to get the word out about their good works, these organizations hire consultants to hawk their ideologies on the rubber chicken circuit and cable infotainment shows. Consultants like...Bill Bennett! After Bill finishes telling Timmy Russert that the Godless Hillary Clinton is responsible for the federal deficit and all of the unwanted pregnancies in the US, he cashes his check and takes a limo up to the Donald's place in Atlantic City, and...


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