Another lobbyist charged in Abramoff scandal
former tribal lobbyist Kevin Ring appeared at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on June 22, 2005. A tribal lobbyist who refused to testify before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee appeared in court on Monday for his role in the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Kevin Ring was arrested in Washington, D.C., just days after Abramoff was sentenced to 48 months for defrauding tribes out of millions of dollars. Ring, who worked with Abramoff, faces similar charges in a scandal that continues to reverberate in Indian Country four years after it first surfaced in national news.

According to an indictment that was unsealed yesterday, Ring and his associates developed a "corrupt" lobbying scheme whose targets included Sandia Pueblo in New Mexico. The tribe was seeking Congressional approval to settle a long-running land dispute.

"They are desperate and rich," Abramoff said of Sandia Pueblo in February 2002 e-mail in which he vowed his associates would get "rich(er)" with the tribe's money.

Federal prosecutors said the tribe agreed to pay Ring's lobbying firm a monthly retainer and $50,000 and to pay another $2.75 million to a firm run by Michael Scanlon, who remains free despite pleading guilty for role in the scandal nearly three years ago. Ring received a $135,000 cut of the Scanlon fee, according to the indictment.

"Kevin is desperate for $ and a big client," Abramoff observed in the e-mail.

Ring left the Greenberg Traurig firm after the scandal broke in February 2004. He soon joined another firm and continued to represent some of the same tribes, including the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, who were Abramoff's first and biggest client.

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the Republican presidential nominee, called Ring to testify at a June 2005 hearing on the scandal. Ring and a second colleague, both of whom worked for Republican members of Congress, invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

"I'm sorry that two young men like yourselves engaged in such activities that you come before this committee and invoke your constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment," McCain said in response. "We had hoped that you would cooperate with the committee. Obviously, you have chosen not to do so, which again is your right."

The unsealed indictment is among the most revealing to come in one of Abramoff cases. In addition to outlining the Sandia Pueblo issue for the first time, it describes how Ring and other lobbyists used members of Congress and the Bush administration to promote their image before tribal clients, in order to encourage the tribes to spend more on their services.

“Next time I will read the Senate bill to see what other surprises you have in their for my clients," Ring wrote to one Senate staffer in a November 2003 e-mail.

More than a dozen people have been indicted in connection with the scandal. All but one pleaded guilty for their crimes and three of them -- Abramoff, former Congressman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and former Interior Department official J. Steven Griles -- have served time in prison.

Abramoff will stay in prison for another four years while Ney and Griles were recently released. The one person who did not plead guilty, David Safavian, a former lobbyist for the National Indian Gaming Association, won the right to a new trial.

Ring plans to fight the charges, according to news reports.

Relevant Documents:
US v. Ring (September 5, 2008)

Related Stories:
Tribes still haunted by Jack Abramoff (9/5)
Blog: Some tribes not really Abramoff victims (9/5)
Abramoff sentenced for defrauding tribes (9/5)
Blog: Some tribes not really Abramoff victims (9/5)
Abramoff writes letter to judge before sentencing (9/4)
Abramoff set for sentencing in tribal fraud case (9/3)
Tribes want to speak at Abramoff sentencing (9/1)
Abramoff pleads for leniency ahead of sentencing (8/29)
Native Democrats drop McCain-Abramoff resolution (8/29)
DOJ seeks reduction in sentence for Abramoff (08/28)
Native Democrats tie Abramoff to McCain campaign (8/26)