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The Issue Of Gambling and Politicians Problematic Issue. 2005-11-13
Michael Rossetti was worried when J. Stephen Griles took an interest in the Jena Band of Choctaws. Griles was interested in the gambling site in Louisiana back in 2003. Rossetti, then counsel to U.S. Secretary of Interior Gail Norton, believed it was all suspicious.
Rossetti recently told an investigating Senate committee in Washington what he witnessed. He claimed that he thought it was unusual for a high-ranking staff member to be involved in a routine department matter. It wasn’t his place; in fact it was far beneath him.
Rossetti had confronted Griles, then threatening to expose his action, if he continued. Griles then went on to tell the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that he had no idea what Rossetti was talking about. Only e-mails released after the hearing, told something different.
The emails indicate that Griles had meetings, telephone calls and other contacts with Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff, at the time, was trying to kill the Jena bid. This man was working on behalf of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana near Elton, and needed rival Jena casino out of the way. Now Abramoff is being investigated, with partner Michael Scanlon in bilking $80 million from six different tribes. A separate U.S. Justice Department investigation will be soon underway.
Abramoff has already been indicted in Florida on federal mail- and wire-fraud charges. These issues are related to the purchase of a Miami-based casino cruise ship line. The matter goes one step further in the line of dominos. Scanlon worked for House Majority Leader Tom Delay, R-Texas. DeLay also involved here, voluntarily stepped down from his leadership post in September after being indicted on state felony charges of conspiracy and laundering campaign funds. He denies that they are true, but stepped down nonetheless.
DeLay may have broken House ethics rules by allowing Abramoff to pay for his trip to Scotland. Abramoff also drew in U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio. Ney has been subpoenaed by the Justice Department to talk about his relationship to Abramoff.
The effect spread like wildfire, those involved and those that were involved indirectly through association. Either way it is going to be a long battle, and long investigation. Hopefully distractions done take away from the real issue, Griles and his casino relationship.
(By Andrea)