Sunday, June 25, 2006

Grand Old Police Blotter: Bagging Amy Edition

The Washington Post is reporting that Amy Ridenour and her National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) were willing participants in laundering Jack Abramoff's filthy lucre:

E-mails suggest Ridenour was well aware that [Jack] Abramoff viewed her organization as a convenient pass-through.


In September 2002, Abramoff suggested to one of his associates placing $500,000 in client funds with the national center because the group "can direct money at our discretion, anywhere if you know what I mean."

The same morning Abramoff messaged Ridenour: "I might have $500K for you to run through NCPPR. Is this still something you want to do?" Ridenour was enthusiastic: "Yes, we would love to do it."

Ridenour did not respond to requests for comment on the Senate committee report or the e-mails released with it.

Earlier this year, after Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiring to ply lawmakers with gifts in exchange for favors, IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said, "One of the most disturbing elements of this whole sordid story is the blatant misuse of charities in a scheme to peddle political influence."

Tax experts said it is impermissible for a tax-exempt organization to act as a pass-through for money destined for private business purposes.

"It's not a tax-exempt activity to act as a bag man for Jack Abramoff," said Marcus S. Owens, a tax lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale and a former Internal Revenue Service official.

Don't be sexist, Marcus. It's bagperson.

Ridenour was part of a multi-faith coalition of sleazy wingnuts who did Jackoff's bidding:

E-mails show that Abramoff also moved client money through a conservative Jewish foundation called Toward Tradition, run by longtime Abramoff friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin. In January 2000, when Reed sent Abramoff an $867,000 invoice to be billed to a Choctaw official, Abramoff responded: "Ok, thanks. Please get me the groups we are using, since I want to give this to her all at once." Reed responded: "Amy, Grover, Lapin and one other I will get you."

How deeply was Ridenour involved?

Abramoff e-mailed instructions to his assistant, Susan Ralston, and others to conceal the true source of funding for the "very important" trip. "The tickets should not in any way say my name or our firm's name," Abramoff wrote. "They should, if possible, say 'National Center for Public Policy Research.' We should pay using my Visa."

Ridenour readily agreed to help, e-mails show. A Marianas client wired about $25,000 to the center's bank account. Abramoff instructed Ridenour to write checks to cover the travel costs of the congressional staffers and Edwin A. Buckham, a former DeLay top aide and lobbyist.

"We'll call the bank first thing in the a.m. and confirm that the money has arrived, and then I will get checks out to you and Ed," Ridenour wrote.

Laundering lobbyist bribes to Republicans. Sounds exactly like what a tax-exempt, non-profit "nonpartisan analysis, study and research" organization should be doing.

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