Ralph Reed (12/04/05)

In the Meredith Wilson’s Ya Got Trouble, The Music Man’s, Harold, incites a crowd of good townspeople against immorality:  “We’ve got trouble right here in River City. With a capital “t” which rhymes with “p” and that stands for pool.” 

Despite his posing, he’s a huckster.  He wants to line his own pockets through the sale of wholesomeness—in this case band instruments.

Ralph Reed is just such a poser.  In 1995, Time (see above cover illustration) called Reed  “the right hand of God.”  The former Executive Director of the Christian Coalition has called gambling “a cancer”, not surprising  for an evangelical.  It seems, however, that Reed  was being paid by the Choctaw casino owners in Mississippi to stop gambling in Texas because it was viewed as competition.  The Texas Observer  reported August 25, 2005 on how Ralph Reed Worked the angles in “Senatorial Courtesy: Will John McCain Let Republican Perps Walk?” by Lou DuBose.

Kudos to the Observer.  As late reporter Martha Gellhorn observed in 1959:

Victory and defeat are both passing moments.  There is no end; there are only means. Journalism is a means, and I now think that the act of keeping the record straight is valuable in itself. Serious, careful, honest journalism is essential, not because it is a guiding light but because it is a form of honorable behavior, involving the reporter and the reader.

In Jamie Dean’s November 19 expose, “Bruised Reed” in the Christian World Magazine,  he wrote, “Ralph Reed is not accused of doing anything illegal.” But on December 1, Texans for Public Justice, Common Cause Texas and Public Citizen petitioned Travis County Attorney David Escamilla to investigate the Texas lobby activities of Ralph Reed. According to the November 18, 2005 story, “Texas Republicans Agree to Limit Use of Corporate Funds” by Washington Post staff writer Sylvia Moreno, Escamilla had just settled  with theTexas  Republican party concerning his investigation into allegations  that the state GOP’s use of $98,800 in corporate funds “may have violated the Texas election code” because those funds were spent on voter registration mailers, a political consultant and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Regarding the new complaint, Texas law, requires  lobbyists of Texas officials to  register and disclose clients and fees if in excess of $1,000 in a calendar quarter. Failure to register is a Class A misdemeanor and can bring a civil fine of up to three times the amount of unreported compensation.  According to state records, Reed did not register as a Texas lobbyist in 2001 or 2002, when he reportedly received $4.2 million to lobby Texas state officials to shut down two Indian casinos in Texas.

Said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice:

Apart from abandoning every scintilla of ethical behavior, Mr. Reed’s Texas lobbying activity also appears to have broken Texas law If Mr. Reed crossed the legal line when he crossed the Texas border to lobby for gambling interests, he must be held fully accountable.

You may recall that it was Abramoff’ who helped Reed convert the remains of televangelist Pat Robertson’s 1988 presidential campaign into the fundamentalist Christian Coalition.  For more than you can ever want to read on the religious right’s rise, see Theocracy Watch’s website.  

Nine years later, Reed started his own lobby firm in Georgia,  Century Strategies.   And now Reed’s running for Lt. Governor of Georgia.  No mention on his website bio of his work with the Christian Coalition .  And no mention in the news coverage section of his current notoriety.

It’s time to face the music.  To paraphrase the Meredith Wilson, Reed rhymes with sleeze.

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