Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform is defending himself from allegations contained in the recent Senate Indian Affairs Committee report [PDF] on Jack Abramoff. The report says that Norquist siphoned money from transfers funneled through his organization that were destined for Ralph Reed’s work fighting the expansion of gambling for the benefit of one of Abramoff’s clients, the Choctaw Tribe of Mississippi.
Abramoff and the Choctaw allegedly used ATR as a way to hide the origins of the money it was sending to Reed for his anti-gambling work, because “Ralph Reed did not want to be paid directly by a tribe with gaming interests.”
The committee report alleges that Norquist received $50,000 for his role as a conduit for the tribe’s money, but Norquist insists that the money was just the tribe’s contribution to his organization and was, according to Newsmax, “roughly the same amount the tribe had contributed to ATR for more than seven years.”
Whatever the case may be, there is one nagging question: if the $50,000 ATR received was indeed part of a routine donation, why would the Choctaw bundle that money in with hundreds of thousands of dollars destined for Reed anti-gambling work?
The report states
In late 1999, the Choctaw paid ATR $325,000. In a 2005 interview with The Boston Globe, Norquist said that ATR had sent $300,000 of that $325,000 to Citizens Against Legalized Lottery (“CALL) … Out of the Choctaw’s $325,000, ATR apparently kept $25,000 for its services.
The Tribe was nevertheless able to continue funding Reed’s efforts. On February 17, 2000, Abramoff advised Reed that “ATR will be sending a second $300K today.” This money, too, came from the Choctaw. Norquist kept another $25,000 from the second transfer, which apparently surprised Abramoff.
If the Choctaw intended to donate to ATR, couldn’t they have simply done so directly?