Abramoff Scandal
Lobbyist traded on DeLay's name to get tribal money

A Washington lobbyist traded on his relationship with Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) in order to fleece money out of tribal clients, according to documents filed in federal court on Friday.

Tony Rudy, a former aide to DeLay, represented a slew of tribes as a lobbyist at the Greenberg Traurig firm. He was hired by Jack Abramoff to work for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, among other wealthy gaming tribes.

But instead of advancing their interests in Washington, Rudy used their money to enrich himself, according to a factual proffer filed by the Department of Justice. He solicited at $25,000 contribution from "a Native American Tribe in Michigan" -- the Saginaw Chippewas -- by "falsely claiming that a public official" requested donations be made to a favored charity, the document states.

The proffer doesn't identify the public official but Bernie Sprague, the former subchief of the tribe, testified in November 2004 that the tribe made contributions to "people we never heard of, people we knew nothing about, organizations, different things of this nature" because Rudy and Abramoff claimed they had influence with "oh yes, Representative Thomas DeLay."

"He was very powerful, and with Jack having access to this guy, he was going to be able to do a lot of things for our tribe," Sprague said of the trading on DeLay's name.

The $25,000 contribution, however, didn't help the tribe. Instead, Rudy and Abramoff used the money "for their personal and professional benefit" to finance a lavish golf trip to Scotland, although Rudy ended up not going, the document states.

The tribe also never knew that the charity, the Capital Athletic Foundation, was run by Abramoff. "We did not know who controlled it," said Sprague, who opposed the donation but was outvoted by the rest of the council at the time.

The Saginaw Chippewa donation wasn't the only instance of fraudulent dealing either. Rudy solicited a $25,000 payment from "a Native American Tribe in Mississippi" -- the Mississippi Choctaws -- to a consulting company even though he "knew that no additional services were being provided to the client," according to the proffer.

Instead, the money went to enrich Rudy and his wife. The Choctaws made the payment to Liberty Consulting, a firm Rudy started while he worked in DeLay's office. Liberty was run by his wife, Lisa, who will not face any potential charges as a result of her husband's plea agreement in federal court.

Rudy's guilty plea is the latest in an investigation that started out as a probe into the lobbying activities of tribes. It has since blown into a widening corruption and bribery scandal that has hit several members of Congress.

The politician in most trouble is Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who is mentioned several times in court papers as "Representative #1" for accepting "things of value" in exchange for official acts that benefited Rudy's tribal clients. For example, Ney agreed to insert language into an election reform bill to reopen two tribal casinos in Texas. Ney denies any wrongdoing and is seeking re-election this year.

Rudy's court papers add another name to the mix -- "Representative #2," otherwise known as DeLay. Based on language in the documents, federal prosecutors appear to allege that DeLay may have taken official acts to benefit Rudy's clients after receiving favors from his former aide.

In one instance, DeLay inserted records into the Congressional record that praised Mississippi Choctaw Chief Philip Martin. The action came after DeLay went on a trip to England and Scotland that was sponsored by Abramoff and partially financed with Choctaw money.

The picture is nowhere near complete, however, with respect to DeLay, who denies wrongdoing and who has provide information as part of the probe. For his part, Rudy admits to engaging in corrupt behaviors while he worked for the powerful congressman.

For example, he admitted to accepting tickets to sporting events, meals and other favors from Abramoff in violation of ethics rules. After he left DeLay's office, Rudy also admitted he tried to influence his former boss without waiting for the one-year "cooling-off" period to expire.

During this time, Rudy's clients included the Saginaw Chippewas, the Mississippi Choctaws, the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, Sandia Pueblo in New Mexico, the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota and the Hopi Tribe of Arizona, according to Senate records.

Rudy eventually stopped representing tribes when he joined the Alexander Strategy Group, a firm founded by Ed Buckham, another former DeLay aide who solicited $250,000 from the Mississippi Choctaws for a grassroots organization said to be favored by DeLay. Buckham can be identified in court papers as "Lobbyist B" and Alexander Strategy Group as "Firm C."

Relevant Documents:
Charges: US v Rudy | Factual Proffer

Relevant Links:
Rep. Tom DeLay - http://tomdelay.house.gov