WASHINGTON – In a widening scandal on Capitol Hill, the government charged a partner of lobbyist Jack Abramoff on Friday with defrauding Indian tribes of millions of dollars in a scheme that lavished golf trips, meals and campaign donations on a member of Congress.
Michael Scanlon, an ex-aide to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, is headed for federal court Monday on a conspiracy count contained in a criminal information, which typically is a prelude to a guilty plea and full cooperation with government investigators.
The eight-page information says Scanlon and a person identified only as "Lobbyist A" provided "a stream of things of value" to a member of Congress, identified only as "Representative No. 1," to aid their effort to pass legislation.
It has been a matter of public record for more than a year that Scanlon and Abramoff had a fee-splitting arrangement and represented several Indian tribes.
Among the people subpoenaed in the Scanlon and Abramoff investigation was Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, whose name surfaced almost a year ago in a Senate Indian Affairs Committee investigation as having extensive dealings with the two lobbyists and their tribal clients.
Ney early this month started a legal defense fund. He has denied any wrongdoing and says he was duped into backing Abramoff's clients and into taking a golf trip paid for by Abramoff.
Court papers filed by prosecutors say that Scanlon and the lobbyist "sought and received Representative No. 1's agreement to perform a series of official acts."
The acts, said the court papers, included "agreements to support and pass legislation, agreements to place statements into the Congressional Record, meeting with Lobbyist A and Scanlon's clients, and advancing the application of Lobbyist A for a license to install wireless telephone infrastructure in the House of Representatives."
Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra confirmed that a hearing has been scheduled for Monday in Scanlon's case, but would provide no details.
Scanlon was once a top aide to DeLay, who stepped down from his leadership post after being charged with violating campaign finance law in Texas. DeLay has denied those charges.
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is investigating Abramoff and Scanlon and the more than $80 million they were paid between 2001 and 2004 by six Indian tribes with casinos.
In another investigation, Abramoff has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Florida on charges of fraud and conspiracy stemming from his role in the 2000 purchase of a fleet of gambling boats. He has pleaded innocent.
Charges outlined in documents filed Friday allege that Lobbyist A solicited an Indian tribe in Mississippi in 1995 to provide lobbying services on taxes and other issues relating to tribal sovereignty.
The lobbyist then allegedly recommended that the tribe hire Scanlon's company, Capital Campaign Strategies, while concealing the fact the Lobbyist A would receive 50 percent of the profits from the tribe's payment to Scanlon.
The Mississippi tribe paid Scanlon's firm $14.8 million from June 2001 through April 2004, while Scanlon concealed from the tribe that 50 percent of the profit "was kicked back to Lobbyist A pursuant to their secret arrangement."
The court papers detailing the conspiracy charge say that Scanlon and Lobbyist A had identical kickback arrangements for tribes in Louisiana, Texas and Michigan.