News and articles relating to the scandal surrounding Washington D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Nominee a boost for Bermuda



TIMOTHY Flanigan, President Bush's nominee to be Deputy Attorney General, holds a senior position with Bermuda-based conglomerate Tyco, and is reported to have worked with embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff to prevent attacks on the continuing viability of off-shore jurisdictions.
It should be of some comfort to Bermudians concerned about politically-inspired attacks on off-shore jurisdictions that the Bush Administration wants such an ardent, conservative supporter of "market-driven" tax jurisdictions to occupy a position of such eminence.
In his governmental career, Mr. Flanigan has "repeatedly found himself in pitched political and ideological battles", the New York Times reported, "including the court fight over the disputed Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election and the crafting of White House memos that justified torture of alleged terrorists."
In his current position as senior vice-president and general counsel of Tyco International, Mr. Flanigan oversaw the work of Mr. Abramoff, a lobbyist who is the subject of at least two congressional investigations and a Justice Department inquiry, and who is alleged to have swindled millions of dollars from six Indian tribes.
"Abramoff listed the president's office among the agencies his team of lobbyists sought to influence on behalf of Tyco during Flanigan's tenure at the Bermuda-based conglomerate," reported the Chicago Tribune, taking it for granted that Flanigan would be confirmed.
Flanigan had worked as a deputy to then-White House counsel and current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, but left Government to join Tyco in November 2002, after disgraced (and recently convicted) chief executive Dennis Kozlowski had left the company, and three months after Tyco had hired Abramoff's law firm, Greenberg Traurig, to do lobbying work in Washington.
Tyco would not provide the US media with any details of Abramoff's work on its behalf, but his services did not come cheap. For 2003 and the first six months of 2004, his firm billed Tyco $1,500,000, and Abramoff listed the "Executive Office of the President" among the agencies Greenberg Traurig was trying to influence.
Flanigan said he did not personally lobby the White House and that he made a point of avoiding contact with it even beyond the requirements of "revolving door" rules restricting the contact of former government officials with their old offices.
If Flanigan is confirmed, it will be no thanks to his relationship with Abramoff, whose alleged situational ethics led to serious political damage to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
The Economist reported that Abramoff and his partner Michael Scanlon were hired to protect various Indian tribes from threats to their gambling interests – particularly the threat of competition from rival tribes.
"He then got prominent social conservatives to oppose the creation of rival casinos, ostensibly in the cause of protecting public morality. From 1999 to 2002, Abramoff-linked organisations paid around $4 million to a company run by Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, in order to organise a 'grass-roots' campaign against a Texas tribe that wanted to compete with Abramoff's clients, the Coushatta tribe in Louisiana."
With the chutzpah for which he is rightly famous, "Casino Jack" Abramoff turned to the defeated Texas tribe and offered to champion their cause – for an appropriate fee.
Having separated the hapless Native Americans from $66 million of their casino profits, Abramoff might have been expected to be grateful for their business. But in a series of e-mails, he described his native clientele as "monkeys", "morons" and "troglodytes".
"Investigating Abramoff and Scanlon is one of Washington's growth industries," the Economist said.
The FBI is said to have 30 agents investigating Abramoff. They work for the Justice Department, where Mr. Flanigan, who paid Abramoff $1,500,000 for unspecified services rendered to Tyco, is set to be number two.
White House spokeswoman Erin Healy told the Times that she would need more information before she could comment.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Intoxination has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Intoxination endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)