Friday, July 14, 2006

Just Desserts For Ralph Reed & Tom DeLay

The self destruction of onetime Christian Coalition wunderkind Ralph Reed is a thing of beauty.

The right wing zealot and former Time magazine cover boy was once mentioned as a possible Republican president candidate. But he has been buffeted by revelations about his sleazy dealings, notably with jailed super lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and may not survive a party primary for the lesser office of Georgia lieutenant governor.

Back in 2003, according to a new piece in Gentleman's Quarterly, the scheming Reed and Abramoff considered launching something called the Black Churches Insurance Program.

Abramoff had pitched something similar to a cash-strapped Native-American tribe, the Tigua. Since the tribe couldn't pay Abramoff his consulting fee, he offered to arrange a life-insurance policy for every Tigua 75 or older. When those elders died, the death beneļ¬ts would have gone to Abramoff through one of his non-profit organizations.

The Tigua didn't take Abramoff up on the offer, but it was too good to let go of, so Abramoff approached Reed about next targeting black churches.
As a former Reed associate told GQ:
Yeah . . . it sounds like Jack approached Reed about mortgaging old black people.
Incidentally, such insurance policies are not illegal, but then that's not the point, right?

(Hat tips to Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker and Kevin Drum at Political Animal.)

Then there's Tom "The Hammer" DeLay, who finds himself between a rock and a hard place, or to be more precise, Texas and Virginia.

The former House majority leader, who was thisclose to Abramoff and brought new meaning to the term hardball politics, quit Congress and decamped to suburban Washington rather than face defeat because of his various self-inflicted ethical and legal woes.
But rather than merely going quietly into the night, DeLay thought he'd pull one final gambit. He ran in and won the Republican primary before quitting and hand picking his replacement.
Now a federal judge, citing a Texas law the makes it tough for a congressional candidate to bail after winning a nomination, has called DeLay on his bait-and-switch and says he must be on the November ballot.

Opines The New York Times:
Mr. DeLay has gamed the system so many times — most famously by gerrymandering the Texas Congressional districts — that he may have presumed a minor thing like fixing the Republican nomination for his own seat was his to control. It might be a fitting punishment to force him to run for Congress while explaining to his constituents why he tried so hard to abandon them for the green fields of the Washington suburbs.

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