Don't Bet on Coincidence
Friday, November 18, 2005; Page A22
WASHINGTON, it seems, is a city of coincidences.
(R-Ill.) House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert held a fundraiser at lobbyist Jack Abramoff's restaurant on June 3, 2003. His political action committee, Keep Our Majority, took in at least $21,500 from Mr. Abramoff's law firm and Mr. Abramoff's Indian tribal clients.
One week later the speaker and his three top deputies wrote Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, urging her to reject a request for a new casino from the Jena tribe of Choctaw Indians. As it happened, the Louisiana Coushatta and Mississippi Choctaw, two of Mr. Abramoff's biggest tribal clients, were furiously working to block the casino.
To hear Mr. Hastert's office tell it, the checks had nothing to do with the letter. "We've always opposed these things, in our back yard, in our state, someplace else," Michael Stokke, Mr. Hastert's deputy chief of staff, told the Associated Press. In all, Mr. Hastert received more than $100,000 in donations from Mr. Abramoff's firm and tribal clients from 2001 to 2004.