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DeLay, Blunt demonstrate how to launder money

It’s really simple. You set up a PAC, funnel money into it, and have the PAC send the money right back out to wherever you want it to go.

In a rare move, the Associated Press has actually published the source documents showing the scheme in action.

Tom DeLay deliberately raised more money than he needed to throw parties at the 2000 presidential convention, then diverted some of the excess to longtime ally Roy Blunt through a series of donations that benefited both men’s causes.

When the financial carousel stopped, DeLay’s private charity, the consulting firm that employed DeLay’s wife and the Missouri campaign of Blunt’s son all ended up with money, according to campaign documents reviewed by The Associated Press. . . .

The entities Blunt and DeLay formed allowed them to collect donations of any size and any U.S. source with little chance of federal scrutiny.

DeLay’s convention fundraising arm, part of his Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (ARMPAC), collected large corporate donations to help wine and dine Republican VIPs during the presidential nominating convention in Philadelphia in late summer 2000. DeLay’s group has declined to identify any of the donors.

Blunt’s group, a nonfederal wing of his Rely on Your Beliefs Fund, eventually registered its activities in Missouri but paid a $3,000 fine for improperly concealing its fundraising in 1999 and spring 2000, according to Missouri Ethics Commission records. — Associated Press

There’s much more to this story, though.

Blunt and DeLay planned all along to raise more money than was needed for the convention parties and then route some of that to other causes, such as supporting state candidates, said longtime Blunt aide Gregg Hartley.

“We put together a budget for what we thought we would raise and spend on the convention and whatever was left over we were going to use to support candidates,” said Hartley, Blunt’s former chief of staff who answered AP’s questions on behalf of Blunt.

Hartley said he saw no similarity to the Texas case. The fact that DeLay’s charity, Christine DeLay’s consulting firm and Blunt’s son were beneficiaries was a coincidence, Hartley said.

Much of the money – including one donation to Blunt from an Abramoff client accused of running a “sweatshop’ garment factory in the Northern Mariana Islands – changed hands in the spring of 2000, a period of keen interest to federal prosecutors.

During that same time, Abramoff arranged for DeLay to use a concert skybox for donors and to take a golfing trip to Scotland and England that was partly underwritten by some of the lobbyist’s clients. Prosecutors are investigating whether the source of some of the money was disguised, and whether some of DeLay’s expenses were originally put on the lobbyist’s credit card in violation of House rules.

Both DeLay and Blunt and their aides also met with Abramoff’s lobbying team several times in 2000 and 2001 on the Marianas issues, according to law firm billing records obtained by AP under an open records request. DeLay was instrumental in blocking legislation opposed by some of Abramoff’s clients.

Noble said investigators should examine whether the pattern of disguising the original source of money might have been an effort to hide the leaders’ simultaneous financial and legislative dealings with Abramoff and his clients.

“You see Abramoff involved and see the meetings that were held and one gets the sense Abramoff is helping this along in order to get access and push his clients’ interest,” he said. “And at the same time, you see Delay and Blunt trying to hide the root of their funding.

“All of these transactions may have strings attached to them. … I think you would want to look, if you aren’t already looking, at the question of a quid pro quo,” Noble said.

Blunt and DeLay have long been political allies. The 2000 transactions occurred as President Bush was marching toward his first election to the White House, DeLay was positioning himself to be House majority leader and Blunt was lining up to succeed DeLay as majority whip, the third-ranking position in the House. — Associated Press

Now that you know how to launder money, I still would strongly recommend against it. After all, if you get into a position of power, someone is going to go back through all of those records, and eventually, it’ll get caught.

(Surprisingly, Irregular Times beat me to this story.)

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