TAX-EXEMPT MONEY-LAUNDERING. The Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, led by Max Baucus, have put together a minority report (PDF) questioning the tax-exempt status of several of the non-profit organizations that apparently put dollars through the Maytag for the felonious Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. (It should be noted that Finance committee chairman Chuck Grassley did sign off on the report.)
Perhaps the biggest offender in the investigation is Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, through which Norquist seems to have taken it upon himself to reform tax law directly by laundering the ducats marked by Abramoff for delivery to the likes of Ralph Reed. (Meanwhile, the once-cherubic face of Reed, the religious right's fallen angel, has taken on, during the course of his nefarious dealings, a certain Chuckyesque quality.) From the report:
Documents indicate ATR may have facilitated funds transfers to conceal the identity of Abramoff clients, possibly in exchange for donations, may have provided public relations services (newspaper articles, etc.) for Abramoff clients, possibly in exchange for donations, and may have introduced Abramoff clients to administration officials, possibly in exchange for donations.
Other offenders fingered by the committee are Citizens Against Government Waste, the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, the National Center for Public Policy Research
and Toward Tradition. In addition to providing some nicely timed fodder for Democrats battling in congressional races, the report also offers a list of recommendations for changes to the laws that govern non-profits. (For background, take a look at this March investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)
The minority report has been forwarded to the IRS and the Department of Justice, where I'm sure Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will give it his utmost attention.
--Adele M. Stan