WASHINGTON: A February article in The Washington Post has sparked intense controversy for two Republican K Street operatives accused of taking exorbitant fees over the past three years from Indian tribes seeking a greater voice in the capital.
Public affairs specialist Michael Scanlon, former aide to Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX) and now head of Capitol Campaign Strategies, and Jack Abramoff, who was a lobbyist for government relations firm Greenberg Traurig until his dismissal last week, accepted more than $45 million from four tribes in recent years.
The fees attracted attention when newly elected tribe leaders complained that they had seen little return on their investment - which included large donations to politicians and think tanks recommended by Scanlon and Abramoff. Such expenditures place the tribes among the largest purchasers of "influence" in Washington, DC, despite having only a few issues before Congress.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), citing the Post article and a follow-up, has asked the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate the matter. "This is shocking," Wolf wrote regarding the articles, saying they "point out how the Indian gambling issue exploits Indians and potentially corrupts government officials."
Attempts by PRWeek to contact Scanlon were unsuccessful. He told the AP on February 26 that he hadn't been approached by any FBI agents.
"I'm really getting beaten up here," he said. "I understand there was a dispute on whether they thought I did a good enough job or not, and whether I did enough work or not, but to go out and claim an FBI agent is investigating who did their PR work is baffling to me."
Greenberg Traurig released a statement Tuesday saying it had accepted Abramoff's resignation. "Mr. Abramoff disclosed to the firm for the first time personal transactions and related conduct which are unacceptable to the firm," read the statement.
The tribes terminated their contracts with Traurig and Abramoff several months ago.