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Moyers on America . Capitol Crimes . Resources . Timeline

Below you'll find a timeline of the career of Jack Abramoff. For more information on matters referred to in "Capitol Crimes" and the MOYERS ON AMERICA Citizens Class, visit the Documents, Glossary, and Sites of Interest sections.

1981Abramoff graduates from Brandeis University. Fresh off his triumphs working on Reagan's 1980 Presidential campaign, Abramoff comes to Washington and successfully runs for National Chairman of the College Republicans. While Chairman he collaborates with two rising young party stars: Grover Norquist, who will lead the conservative anti-tax crusade, and Ralph Reed, the future Executive Director of the Christian Coalition.
1984Tom DeLay of Sugar Land, Texas is elected to the House of Representatives. Abramoff addresses the Republican National Convention.
1986Abramoff graduates from Georgetown University's school of law and moves back to California to start his own film production company, Regency Entertainment.
1989Abramoff produces the movie RED SCORPION, a critically-panned, anti-communist potboiler, reportedly made with the support of the apartheid South African Government and its military forces.
1994In the 1994 mid-term elections, the "Republican Revolution," the GOP takes control of both houses of Congress for the first time in forty years. Abramoff moves back to Washington and joins the law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis. In the company's press release announcing his hire, Abramoff's Preston Gates touts his already "strong ties" with incoming House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas).
1995Abramoff begins work for the first of his tribal clients with gambling interests, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, a niche that will eventually earn him the moniker "Casino Jack". He also begins working for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, fighting against any efforts to apply U.S. Immigration and minimum wage laws on the U.S. territory.
1996The U.S. Family Network is founded by Tom DeLay's chief of staff, Ed Buckham. While the non-profit's stated mission is to restore "moral fitness" to American life, it's very first contribution comes from Jack Abramoff.
1997Lawmakers, aides and journalists take numerous trips to the Marianas, invited by Jack Abramoff and his lobbying team, and paid for by the government of the Commonwealth. On one such trip, DeLay calls the lobbyist "one of my closest and dearest friends."

After his own visit to Saipan, Senator Frank Murkowski (R- Alaska) says he's witnessed "living conditions that simply should not exist in the United States of America." As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, he introduces a bill to extend the protection of U.S. immigration and minimum wage laws to the workers of the Northern Marianas. The legislation would eventually pass by unanimous consent in the Senate, but Tom DeLay would repeatedly keep it from even being brought to the floor for debate in the House of Representatives.

Ralph Reed leaves the Christian Coalition to form Century Strategies, a political consulting/public affairs firm which claims to only accept clients who oppose abortion, higher taxes and gambling.

1999:Abramoff and Reed begin a campaign to protect the Choctaw casino against competition. Coordinating with Abramoff, Reed organizes Christians to oppose threats to Abramoff's client on moral grounds. In return, Abramoff funnels over $1 million of the Choctaw's payments to Reed through Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, allegedly to hide its origin.
2000: Abramoff continues to act as a congressional travel agent, arranging junkets that include Tom DeLay's 2000 trip to the world famous golf course at Saint Andrews, Scotland. In violation of House ethics rules, DeLay's airfare is billed to Abramoff's credit card. The Center for Public Integrity investigates "Traveling on the Abramoff Plan"
2001:After a partner warns him that he'll soon end up "dead, disgraced or in jail," Abramoff leaves Preston Gates to join another firm, Greenberg Traurig, bringing along many of his lucrative clients. Abramoff begins working with former DeLay press secretary Michael Scanlon and soon forms a partnership they dub "Gimme Five". The plan is to secretly over-bill their tribal clients millions of dollars and split the windfall.

May: Grover Norquist helps arrange a meeting between at least four of Abramoff's clients with the newly-elected President George W. Bush.

Tom DeLay establishes TRMPAC (Texans for a Republican Majority)in an effort to wrest control of the Texas House of Representatives from Democrats.

2002While Abramoff and Scanlon collect millions in fees from Indian tribes (Watch NOW WITH BILL MOYERS's coverage of the Tigua Speaking Rock Casino. Tom DeLay's TRMPAC, helps the GOP take control of the Texas House of Representatives for the first time in 130 years.

Abramoff arranges another golfing junket to Saint Andrews, Scotland this time for Congressman Bob Ney of Ohio, General Services Agency Chief of Staff David Safavian and Ralph Reed.

2003:In Washington, Tom DeLay is elevated to House Majority Leader. In Texas, Republicans use their new majority in the state legislature to pass an unprecedented mid-decade redistricting plan that threatens several Democratic incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives. The final details of the gerrymandering are personally brokered by DeLay.

In Louisiana, an audit of the Coushatta Tribe's finances uncovers $32 million in payments for "lobbying" related costs over the course three years. The vast majority was paid to Abramoff and Scanlon through Scanlon's company and non-profits controlled by the pair.

2004:February 22: A front page Washington Post expose reveals that Abramoff and Scanlon have been paid $45 million from four casino owning tribal clients. Soon after, Abramoff leaves Greenberg Traurig and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee announces it will begin an investigation.

Read the Pulitzer Prize winning investigation by the Washington Post on the Abramoff Scandal:

September 29: Abramoff asserts his Fifth Amendment privilege in testimony to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

November 2: The DeLay-backed gerrymandering of Texas congressional districts leads to five new Texas GOP seats in the House.

November 17: Michael Scanlon asserts his Fifth Amendment rights in his testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

2005:September 28: DeLay temporarily steps aside as House majority leader after being indicted by a Texas grand jury on conspiracy charges relating to the 2002 Texas state elections.

October 3: A separate Texas grand jury indicts DeLay on charges of conspiracy to launder money and money laundering relating to TRMPAC's activities in the 2002 elections.

October 5: David Safavian, now head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the White House Office of Management and Budget, is indicted on charges of lying to federal investigators in the Abramoff corruption investigation.

November 21: Michael Scanlon pleads guilty to conspiring to bribe a congressman and other public officials and agrees to pay back more than $19 million to the tribal clients he and Abramoff have defrauded in their "Gimme Five" scheme.

2006:January 3: Abramoff pleads guilty to federal conspiracy, tax evasion and fraud charges and agrees to cooperate with the Justice Department's investigation of possible corruption of public officials, including members of Congress.

January 7: Days later, DeLay announces he will not seek to reclaim the Majority Leader position in the House. He will run for re-election in Texas, however, in order "to clear my name of the baseless charges leveled against me."

April 4: Just days after he is listed as Representative #2 in another former aide's guilty plea in the spreading scandal, Delay makes the sudden announcement that he will resign from the congress.

May 8: Neil Volz, a former aide to Congressman Bob Ney (R-Ohio), pleads guilty to conspiracy, admitting that he worked with Abramoff and others to commit fraud.

June 20: David Safavian is found guilty of lying and obstructing justice by a federal jury.

September 15: Republican congressman Bob Ney of Ohio agrees to plead guilty to illegally accepting tens of thousands of dollars in trips, meals, drinks and tickets.


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