Former star at the Hendersonville Times-News, Joel Burgess, has moved to the Asheville Citizen-Times and penned a concise, well-researched article describing the links between disgraced super lobbyist Jack Abramoff and our own Congressman Charles Taylor (NC-11). The article unveils more of the context of the now infamous April 11, 2003 fundraiser:
Asheville Citizen-Times: "Congressman Charles Taylor said he met with lobbyists working with Jack Abramoff a month before writing a letter that would potentially net more than $3 million for their client, the Saginaw tribe of Michigan."
"The Brevard Republican said during interviews this week that the lunch with “several of the Greenberg folks,” meaning members of Abramoff’s Greenberg Traurig lobbying firm, was not to raise money or discuss the tribe."
"He said the April 2003 meeting may have been at Signatures, a restaurant partially owned by Abramoff and used by the lobbyist for fundraising events."
"Taylor said he remembered two of the “five or six” men at the lunch, Mike Williams and Duane Gibson. His campaign finance reports show checks of $500 each from the men on April 11, two days after he said the lunch happened. Abramoff was not at the lunch, but reports show he contributed $2,000, also two days later.
Four other Greenberg Traurig members linked to coordinated lobbying with Abramoff, sometimes called “team Abramoff,” also had checks of $500 apiece deposited on April 11. A $1,000 check from the Saginaw was deposited by Taylor’s campaign the same day.
A month later Greenberg Traurig gave another $2,000 to the congressman and another client tribe, the Mississippi Choctaw, gave $2,000, for a total of $10,000."
"The nighttime reception occurred at a room not far from his congressional office and netted about $30,000, he said."
Taylor does his best to dissociate himself from Abramoff and his firm, but he sure doesn't plan on parting with their money. No documents have emerged (emails, invitations, receipts) to prove that Abramoff's firm sponsored the event. The presence of "Team Abramoff" and his Native American clients seems, however, to tell the tale. Charles Taylor isn't going to admit that he's been part of Abramoff's machine. He doesn't have it in him. The man may, after all these years of feeding at the Washington trough, be incapable of realizing that he's done anything wrong, but that doesn't absolve him of his undeniable loyalty to the Tom Delay/Jack Abramoff wing of his Republican Party.
"- Jack Abramoff: The Republican lobbyist has pleaded guilty to defrauding Indian tribe clients, corrupting public officials and fraudulent dealings with a Florida casino company.
- Abramoff gave or directed millions in money and gifts to legislators in both parties, including $2,000 to Rep. Charles Taylor, R-Brevard. Investigations are ongoing.
- Taylor has not been named in an investigation.
- The following were members of the same lobbying firm as Abramoff and are sometimes referred to as "team Abramoff" because of work done with the former lobbyist.
• Todd Boulanger
• Duane Gibson
• Neil Volz
• Shawn Vasell
• Mike Williams
• Kevin Ring
- 2002 Team Abramoff lobbies Democratic senators for money for Saginaw school construction.
- 2003 Republicans take control of the Senate. The team turns to GOP senators to secure $3 million for the tribe.
In the House, Taylor takes over as subcommittee chairman of the Interior Department, which oversees tribal funding.
April 9: Taylor attends a lunch with members of Team Abramoff, whose client is the Saginaw.
April 11: Taylor gets $6,000 from the team and Saginaw.
May: Taylor and Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., write letters to the Interior Department pushing to include Saginaw in a school funding program. Around that time, Taylor gets $4,000 more from lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig, and another client, Mississippi Choctaw."
The industry that's donated the largest amount to Taylor's campaign: Casino Gambling.