Cover Story

Houses of cards

"Houses of cards" Continued...

Issue: "God and mammon," Jan. 14, 2006

Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)-both longtime advocates for evangelicals-also received contributions: Mr. Brownback received $44,500, which he returned in December. Mr. Grassley received $31,500.

Hours after Mr. Abramoff entered his guilty plea, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) announced he would donate to charity tens of thousands of dollars he received from Mr. Abramoff and his clients. Officials for President Bush's reelection campaign also announced they would return $6,000 donated directly to the campaign by Mr. Abramoff, his wife, and one of Mr. Abramoff's tribal clients.

Mr. Abramoff in his Jan. 3 courtroom plea invoked God's name: "I only hope that I can merit forgiveness from the Almighty and from those I have wronged or caused to suffer. I will work hard to earn that redemption," he told U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle.

Abramoff investigation timeline


  • Choctaw Tribe of Mississippi hires Abramoff to protect itself from competition from neighboring states. Abramoff hires Ralph Reed to mobilize evangelical Christians to oppose pro-gambling legislation in Alabama.
  • Reed helps funnel $1.15 million of Choctaw money to two anti-gambling groups in Alabama, including the state's Christian Coalition.


  • Gambling services company eLottery hires Abramoff to help defeat the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. Abramoff hires Reed to help defeat the bill.
  • Reed urges evangelicals to oppose the legislation, saying it contains exceptions allowing certain types of gambling.
  • James Dobson and other evangelical leaders support the anti-gambling bill, but the legislation is defeated.
  • Abramoff partner Michael Scanlon sends e-mail to Coushatta Tribe lawyer outlining strategy to "bring out the wackos" to defeat gambling competition.


  • Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana hires Abramoff to protect its gambling interests from competition. Abramoff hires Reed to lobby Christians to oppose casino openings and expanded gambling laws in Louisiana. Several evangelical leaders-including James Dobson and Tony Perkins-write letters to Interior Secretary Gale Norton opposing a casino opening in Vinton, La.


  • Abramoff refuses to answer questions from the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, but a seven-month committee investigation concludes that Abramoff and Scanlon, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), charged six tribes in six states at least $66 million for pro-casino lobbying and may have manipulated tribal elections to ensure contracts with tribes.


  • Nov. 21: Scanlon pleads guilty in Washington to conspiring to bribe public officials in connection with his lobbying work on behalf of Indian tribes and casinos.
  • Dec. 13-22: Republican and Democratic lawmakers return or give away campaign donations they received from Abramoff and his associates.


  • Jan. 3: Abramoff pleads guilty in Washington to mail fraud, conspiracy, and tax evasion charges in federal court in connection with his lobbying work.
  • House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) announces he will give money received from Abramoff to charity.
  • Jan. 4: Abramoff pleads guilty in Miami to conspiracy and wire fraud charges in relation to the 2000 purchase of SunCruz casinos.
  • The Republican National Committee announced that President Bush's reelection campaign will give $6,000 of Abramoff contributions to charity. Republican Reps. Tom DeLay, Roy Blunt, and Bob Ney announce they will return or give money they received from Abramoff to charity.

- Source: Associated Press and WORLD interviews

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the political beat and other topics as national editor for WORLD Magazine. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.


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