The Magazine

The Friends of Jack Abramoff

They're not all Republicans.

Jan 16, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 17 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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The route by which Scanlon had supposedly secured Dodd's cooperation was circuitous. His firm, Scanlon & Gould, aka Capital Campaign Strategies, paid another firm, Lunde & Burger, $50,000 to lobby the Connecticut Democrat. "He called me about the Tiguas' wanting to reopen their casino," Brian Lunde, a former Democratic National Committee executive director who in 2004 was the national chair of Democrats for Bush, later told the New York Times. "I checked around, and it was the formal position of the DNC to have that reopened." Lunde and Burger entered into a $10,000 subcontract with yet another "public relations strategist" to lobby Dodd directly. Enter Lottie Shackelford.

LIKE MANY WASHINGTONIANS Lottie Shackelford came to this city to do good and stayed to do well. She has been a vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee since 1989. She is also a lobbyist. She was the first woman to be elected mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas, and her career has followed the arc of that state's former governor, Bill Clinton. In 1993 Clinton appointed Shackelford, who had served on his presidential transition team, to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, an obscure government agency that oversees subsidies for U.S. businesses investing abroad. Also that year she was named executive vice president of U.S. Strategies Inc., a lobbying firm. Later she became executive vice president of another lobbying firm, Global USA, Inc. (Much of her bio can be read on the website of the pharmaceutical company Medicis, on whose board Shackelford sits.)

Among Shackelford's clients in 2005: FM Policy Focus, which paid Global USA Inc. $45,000 for six months' work to lobby the House and Senate on "regulatory reform issues" and the "Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005"; the "Metro-Miami Action Plan Trust," which hired her to "assist with procurement of appropriated funds"; and Hyundai Motor Company, which paid her to work on "issues related to hydrogen fleet and infrastructure demonstration and validation project," specifically "HR 2419, Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2006, provisions relating to Department of Energy hydrogen program."

In 2002, when she contacted Dodd about the Tigua provision, Shackelford was also a registered lobbyist on behalf of Quest Software, as well as United to Secure America, which paid Global USA Inc. $10,000 to influence immigration reform legislation. She was not a registered lobbyist on behalf of the Tigua. She was, however, a member of Dodd's fundraising committee. "We directed her to make personal contact with the Senator throughout the campaign starting in April and lasting through the passage of the legislation in October," Scanlon wrote in his 2003 memo. Shackelford, he continued, was "critical."

In 2004 Dodd delivered a statement to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Shackelford "did approach my office," he wrote, "during the waning hours of negotiations over the HAVA legislation." And Shackelford did "inquire whether recognition provisions for the Tigua tribe could be included in the bill." However, according to Dodd, "the suggestion was summarily rejected."

No one seems to have told Bob Ney that. While Scanlon was working with the Democratic lobbyists, Abramoff had been working with the Ohio Republican congressman. On July 25, 2002, Abramoff received some disturbing news. Ney told him that he had met with Dodd to discuss HAVA, and brought up the Tigua. "Dodd looked at him like a 'deer in headlights,'" Abramoff later wrote to Scanlon, and "said he had never made such a commitment and that, with the problems of new casinos in Connecticut, it is a problem!!!"

The plan, in short, had failed. When the Help America Vote Act became law in October 2002, there was no provision reopening the Speaking Rock casino. Lobbyists, of course, get to cash their checks whether they are successful or not. Shackelford kept the $10,000. That she did so tells us that Jack Abramoff's story is not simply about how some Republicans work Washington for private gain. It's also about how Washington really works.

Matthew Continetti is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard and author of the forthcoming book, Can This Party Be Saved? How Money, Power, and Influence Have Corrupted the GOP (Doubleday).