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Liberal group files Abramoff complaint in New Hampshire

RAW STORY
Published: Thursday May 4, 2006

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A new liberal Senate advocacy group has filed a Federal Elections Commission criminal complaint against the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, who they allege may have illegally concealed the receipt and amount of a contribution from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians -- a native American client of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, RAW STORY has learned.

The Senate Majority Project says the Choctaw's contribution helped finance the Republicans’ efforts to stymie get out the vote phone lines by illegally "jamming" calls.

A lawyer for the Republican National Committee, who is representing those accused in the phone jamming case, recently revealed that the White House's role in the phone jamming was investigated by the Justice Department after it emerged that calls were placed by those involved to the White House on the day of the crime.

Republicans say calls to the White House weren't regarding phone-jamming. Bloomberg News reported that the RNC "said they only paid the legal bills of James Tobin, 45, who was convicted in December of conspiracy to commit telephone harassment because the Republican National Committee's previous leadership had agreed to do that."

``Democrats are trying to stir up crap,'' said Joe Gaylord, a Republican consultant, told Bloomberg.

Democrats say the Abramoff money "may be" illegal.

“Not only did the New Hampshire Republicans break the law to prevent people from voting, they may have done so with illegal money from Jack Abramoff’s Indian tribes,” Mike Gehrke, the group's director said. “In a move that would awe even Enron accountants, the New Hampshire Republicans took an illegal contribution and concealed it until after the election, after John Sununu had safely won his U.S. Senate seat.”

More follows from the Majority Project's press release.

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On October 10th, the Choctaws wrote a check for $20,000 to the “New Hampshire Republican Party.” If it had been cashed on that day, it would have had to be disclosed before the election in the NHRSC’s final pre-election report to the FEC. However, the party did not cash the check until October 28th so it was not required to be disclosed until after the election. In fact, the contribution was ultimately not disclosed until December 5, 2002 -- well after the election.

On top of this fact, the NHRSC lied about the check amount on its reports. Mistakes are not uncommon, but this was no mere typo. The Choctaw check was $20,000 – double the $5,000 cap on contributions the party could legally accept from the tribe.

This donation has previously stood out because New Hampshire has no federally recognized tribes and no legal casino gambling. Furthermore, it was unusual for the Mississippi Choctaws to contribute to state parties; most of their federal-level contributions went directly to candidates. It was not unusual, however, for Abramoff and his associates to go to great lengths to use tribal money to aid his friends without it being disclosed. At the Senate Indian Affairs lobbying hearings, a Choctaw political official addressed the complicated means taken to run contributions through different PACs and non-profits, saying, "I'm sure there was some concern by some of the recipients of not being linked to a tribe or a gaming tribe," said [Choctaw official Nell] Rogers. [Gannett News Services, 6/24/2005]

“This scandal is quickly becoming a Who’s Who of Republican corruption,” continued Gehrke. “When the White House, the Governor of Mississippi, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Jack Abramoff are involved in a crime to stop people from voting, it says a lot about Republicans and winning at any cost.”

The complaint was filed with Lawrence Norton, the General Counsel of the Federal Elections Commission. The complaint and the check from the Choctaws are attached. They can also be found on the Senate Majority Project website.

Correction: The Senate Majority project says they have no ties to former Sen. Daschle beyond his signing a fundraising pitch. The story has been updated to reflect this.