Wow, this is an explosive story. GQ has a story on Ralph Reed, former Christian Coalition director now running for Lt. Governor in Georgia, that contains new allegations that will shock even the cynical. Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed were, according to email exchanged between the two of them in July of 2003, working on a program to get elderly black church leaders to take out life insurance policies payable to non-profit groups that Jack controlled. TPMmuckraker picked up on it and explains how it worked:
We know how this scheme would have gone, because Abramoff pitched something similar to a cash-strapped Texas tribe, the Tigua. Basically, since the tribe couldn’t pay Abramoff, he offered to arrange “a life-insurance policy for every Tigua 75 or older.” When those elders died, the death beneﬁts would have gone to Abramoff through one of his non-profits. The Tigua didn’t take Abramoff up on the offer, but it was too good of an idea to let go.
So Abramoff apparently thought black churches were a good target. This would have been the same thing, according to GQ’s Sean Flynn, except that it was African-Americans.
Abramoff sent an email to Reed with details about the program and how it would work. He needed Reed, of course, because of his connections with the churches. His role with the Christian Coalition gave him credibility in the churches, so whenever Abramoff needed something from them, he called his buddy Ralph. When his clients were gambling interests wanting to stop the competition, he paid Ralph to fire up the churches for some old-fashioned anti-gambling campaigns.
When his clients were corporations wanting to use Chinese virtual slave labor in the Marianas islands, he paid Ralph to get the churches involved to lobby to kill a bill that would have ended that practice (which he did by telling the good Christian folks that it’s a good thing to import Chinese workers even if they’re mistreated and paid virtually nothing because once they’re out of China they can be witnessed to and saved. Praise the lord.
So naturally, when he wanted to bilk black churches by getting their old people to take out life insurance policies in his name, he went to Ralph. He sent him an email that said:
Let me know how we can move forward to chat with folks who can set this up with African American elders. It can be huge. Thanks.
And Ralph replied:
Yes, it looks interesting. I assume you’ll set up a meeting in DC as a next step, or whatever we should do next, let me know.
That meeting apparently never took place, presumably because that was about the time the law was beginning to catch up to Abramoff. He’s now in prison. Sounds to me like Ralph Reed should be his cellmate. There’s a lot more detail in the GQ article, along with lots of juicy information about backroom deals to get language snuck into bills for their mutual clients. Praise the lord and pass the indictments.