Monday, March 21


Oh boy. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution nails another religious-right Republican hypocrite. Seems Ralph Reed, former director of the Christian Coalition turned political strategist, is running for Lt. Gov. of Georgia. His righteous image, however, is tarnished by his business dealings in recent years. The AJC article, in short, tells the story of how Reed was hired by his long-time good buddy Jack Abramoff (known as "Casino Jack" among his fellow lobbyists) to wage a religious crusade against an Indian casino in El Paso, Texas, so that rival tribes could open up their own profitable casino after it was closed.

Reed's claim that "at no time were we retained by nor did we represent any casino or casino company" is equally beside the point. The $4 million was laundered before it got to Reed, much of it through a fraudulent front in Delaware, but it was gambling money nonetheless. Given Abramoff's role in directing the campaign, Reed had to have known that. He may look like a choir boy, but he is one of the shrewdest operators in Washington.

Again, there is no indication that Reed faces legal trouble in this case, which is more than can be said for a few other politicians, such as House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

But there's still something troubling about Reed pretending to be doing the work of the Lord, while in reality doing the bidding of gambling interests.

And unlike Reed, the pastors and congregations that he drew into his web had no idea that what they perceived to be a moral crusade against gambling was instead being directed and financed by gamblers, on behalf of gamblers, and to the financial enrichment of a man they trusted and saw as a hero.

The story's been related before, both here and here, but those are "liberal rags" and unlikely to receive a wide readership among Georgia voters. The AJC is different. Its voice carries weight, especially in Georgia's urban areas. Maybe at last the pol-disguised-as-preacher will be exposed for the hypocrisy of his ethics, of which this is just the latest tale (see here for the story of how Reed signed on as a senior adviser to Bush's first presidential campaign while still working as a lobbyist for Microsoft to influence Bush to support Microsoft's position in the Justice Department's antitrust case if he won the November presidential election).

One of the most despicable classes of human beings is reserved for those who pervert the honest religious faith of others for profit. Ralph Reed belongs to that class.


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