Moyers on America
Capitol Crimes     Is God Green?     The Net at Risk

RESOURCES > Glossary

Below you'll find terms and people featured in "Capitol Crimes" and THE MOYERS ON AMERICA CITIZENS CLASS.

For more information on matters referred to in "Capitol Crimes" and the MOYERS ON AMERICA Citizens Class, visit the Documents, Timeline, and Sites of Interest sections.


ARMPAC: Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (ARMPAC): The PAC formed by Congressman Tom DeLay. Over its 12 year existence, ARMPAC distributed almost $4 million to Republican members of congress and candidates. (according to The PAC closed operations in 2006 after being fined for campaign finance violations by the Federal Election Commission.

Choctaw: Mississippi Band of: 10,000 member Native American tribe and owners of two highly profitable casinos. Abramoff's first client with gambling or casino interests.

Congressional earmark: To designate a certain portion of a spending bill for a specific use. Find out more about earmarks in the Citizens Class.

Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana: Native American tribe based in Kinder, Louisiana. Hired Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon in March 2001, for lobbying and public relations work relating to their casino operations. The tribe would eventually pay $32 million to Abramoff and Scanlon controlled entities in the "Gimme Five" scheme.

Federal Election Commission:A commission formed in 1975 by Congress to enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act, a statute that governs the financing of federal elections. The Commission, which also enforces McCain-Feingold and other electoral statutes, consists of six members, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. To avoid politicized decisions, it consists of three Democrats and three Republicans.

Help America Vote Act: Passed in 2002, this election law included legislation requiring states to transition to more reliable voting systems and created a new federal voter registration form. It was to this bill that Abramoff and Bob Ney attempted to attach a provision that would allow the casino owned by the Tigua tribe of Texas to re-open.

K Street Project: The K Street Project was conceived by Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist and enforced by Representative Tom DeLay after Republicans gained control of the House in 1994. The project was designed to increase GOP influence in lobbying firms and associations by pressuring organizations to hire exclusively Republican lobbyists. Those lobbyists would in turn contribute primarily to Republican candidates and PACs.

Majority Whip: The Majority Whip is the 3rd ranking leadership position in the majority party in the House of Representatives. The whip is responsible for mobilizing votes within their parties on major issues. In the absence of a party floor leader, the whip often serves as acting floor leader. Tom DeLay was the Majority Whip from 1994-2002, until he rose to #2, House Majority Leader.

McCain-Feingold Law - Bi-Partisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCRA):Passed in 2002, the law places new restrictions on soft money and issue ads. "Hard" Money: Political contributions that are restricted by election laws. "Soft" Money: Unregulated contributions to political parties that are theoretically spent on "party-building activities", such as "issue ads" and "get out the vote" campaigns. The restrictions on soft money contributed greatly to the rise of 527 organizations which some critics see as simply a new way for special interest money to come into play. The McCain-Feingold law faced court challenges soon after passage. In 2003, the Supreme Court upheld, 5-4, McCain-Feingold on the key issues of banning "soft-money" contributions and limiting "issue ads." The justices struck down two provisions of the law - a ban on political contributions from those under voting age and limitations on party spending unrelated to a particular party candidate.

Naftasib: A Russian energy company connected to Abramoff's Bahamas-based client "Chelsea Commercial Enterprises Ltd." Naftasib executives hosted DeLay during his 1997 trip to Moscow.

North Mariana Islands, Commonwealth of the: : The Northern Mariana Islands are a commonwealth of the United States located in the Pacific. Jack Abramoff lobbied on behalf of the Islands' government and its garment industry interests.

Political Action Committee "PAC": PACs are a fund raising entity registered with the Federal Election Committee (FEC). They are generally formed by special-interest groups or associated with a specific politician and designed to raise money for candidates and/or to influence legislation. The FEC does place some restrictions on the amount of money that PACs can raise and distribute.

Texans for Public Justice: A non-profit public advocacy group formed in 1997 which investigates political corruption and corporate abuses in Texas.

Tigua: Native American tribe and owners of the Speaking Rock casino in El Paso. After Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon worked with Ralph Reed to shut down casinos in Texas in 2002, the duo persuaded the Tigua tribe to pay $4.2 million to influence federal legislation to help re-open it. Watch NOW WITH BILL MOYERS's coverage of the Tigua Speaking Rock Casino. Watch NOW WITH BILL MOYERS's coverage of the Tigua Speaking Rock Casino.

TRMPAC: PAC associated with Tom DeLay and formed in 2001 with the goal of electing a Republican majority to the Texas state legislature for the first time in over a century. A GOP controlled state house would facilitate a mid-decade gerrymandering of Texas Congressional districts.

US Family Network: A non-profit group founded by Tom DeLay's chief of staff Ed Buckham with the stated mission to restore "moral fitness" to American life. The group's tax returns show that the majority of its $3 million dollar-plus income came from Abramoff's clients - including the Choctaw, Willie Tan, and Russian oligarchs.


Jack Abramoff: Find out more about Jack Abramoff's career in the Timeline, and read press coverage of the case as well as related documents.

Ed Buckham: Tom DeLay's former chief of staff and founder of the U.S. Family Network (USFN), a now defunct non-profit. Buckham received more than a third of all the funds collected by the USFN and most of the group's revenue was contributed by clients of Jack Abramoff.

Tom DeLay: After years of running a pest control business in Texas, DeLay was elected to Congress in 1984. Nicknamed "The Hammer," DeLay was voted House Majority Whip in 1994 and was later elevated to House Majority Leader in 2003. After being indicted by a Texas grand jury on charges of conspiracy and money laundering, DeLay initially announced that he would still run for his seat in the House. Days after a top aide identified Delay as "Representative #2" in a guilty plea in the Abramoff scandal, Delay announced he would resign from Congress.

Ben Fitial: Fitial is currently the Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. Previously an executive with Tan Holdings, in 2000 he became the Marianas' Speaker of the House after DeLay associates Ed Buckham and Michael Scanlon flew to the Islands to lend him their support.

Bob Ney: A six-term Republican Congressman from Ohio, Ney announced he would not seek re-election in August 2006. In September 2006, he agreed to plead guilty to illegally accepting tens of thousands of dollars in trips, meals, drinks and tickets, becoming the first lawmaker to plead guilty in the Abramoff scandal.

Grover Norquist: Norquist is the president of Americans for Tax Reform and a leading conservative strategist. His weekly "Wednesday meetings" of prominent Republicans, lobbyists and activists are considered by many to be the nerve center for the conservative movement.

Ralph Reed: Former Executive Director of the Christian Coalition who was dubbed "The Right Hand of God" by TIME Magazine in 1995. Reed founded his own political consulting firm Century Strategies in 1997. In 2006, Reed lost his bid to become the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia in the GOP primary.

Mike Scanlon: Public relations consultant and former spokesman for Congressman Tom DeLay. On November 21, 2005, Scanlon plead guilty to a federal conspiracy charge and agreed to pay restitution totaling more than $19 million to the Indian tribes he had defrauded.

Willie Tan: Garment tycoon of the Northern Marianas Islands and CEO of Tan Holdings. In 1992, Tan's companies paid the largest labor fine in U.S. history for the sweatshop conditions in his factories on the islands.

Watch & Listen
Interact: Moyers on America Citizens Class