Ralph Reed denies casino deal

By Sherrie Gossett

Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition and current Bush campaign strategist for the Southeast, has responded to allegations that he had been secretly taking funds from one Indian tribe with a casino monopoly as payment to launch a moral crusade against a competitive tribe that wanted to start up its own casino.

In the July 12 edition of The Nation, a leftist publication, veteran journalist Jack Newfield wrote that if the rival Jena Band tribe obtained rights to run a casino, it posed a potential $1 billion loss in gambling revenue to the Coushatta tribe of Louisiana.

Jack Newfield

The Coushattas are one of four tribes being investigated by Congress for some $45 million paid to Washington lobbyist/lawyer Jack Abramoff and public-relations executive Mike Scanlon, the former spokesman for House GOP Majority Leader Tom Delay.

The tribe has paid more than $32 million to Abramoff and Scanlon.

According to Newfield, Reed was hired by the Coushatta to fend off the newcomers and offset the influence of former GOP national Chairman Haley Barbour, who had been hired by the Jena Band to help ensure their casino compact was approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“This was not a crime, just furtive hypocrisy,” Newfield wrote.

Newfield cites “unearthed evidence” from a federal investigation, the testimony of three witnesses and documents obtained by The Nation.

But Newfield’s allegations are not true, says Reed. Declining to be interviewed, Reed released this statement to WND through Sarah Few, communications director for his public-affairs firm, Century Strategies:

Ralph Reed

“The Nation story is filled with falsehoods and inaccuracies and liberal bias. The facts are these: Ralph Reed and Century Strategies have long been opposed to casino gambling. We have worked with broad coalitions to oppose its spread, including grass-roots organizations, churches and other like-minded citizens. We are proud of the work we’ve done to help prevent the spread of casino gambling because it’s consistent with our philosophical views and those of the citizens we have organized. And while we have participated in broad coalitions, we have never represented or worked for a casino company.”

WND asked Few to comment specifically on Newfield’s report that Reed was able to keep his deal secret, by being paid via money laundered through firms controlled by Abramoff and Scanlon. Newfield buttressed his story by citing documents he obtained that allegedly show Reed sent bills to Abramoff and Scanlon and that one of his consulting companies, Century Strategies of Duluth, Ga., received $250,000 from Capitol Campaign Strategies – a Scanlon company. An invoice to Abramoff from another Reed company, Capitol Media, for $100,000, states only that the payment is for “Louisiana Project Mgmt. Fee.”

“All, of course, are false statements,” Few said, declining further comment.

In the 1990s as executive director of the Christian Coalition, Reed denounced gambling as anti-family, stating that “alcoholism, theft, organized crime, suicide, divorce and unemployment follow gambling wherever it appears.”

WND invited Jack Newfield to read and comment on Reed’s statement but received no response.

Newfield is currently a fellow of The Nation Institute and has won numerous awards for his work.

Calls made to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding the investigation were not immediately returned.