Abramoff & CNMI - Roles in Influencing Members of Congress























April 20, 2008

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) is in the headlines of the Anchorage Daily in a very detailed article written by reporter Richard Mauer. The story states that members of Abramoff's lobbying team met with the former Houses Natural Resources Committee member's staff and personnel over 120 times. This is a story worth reading as it connects some dots between Abramoff and CNMI officials:

"But as more information surfaces in the Abramoff lobbying scandal, the connections to Young only deepen. Among that new information was a private memo written by Abramoff himself to the governor of the Mariana Islands, expressing concern that Young was being forced by term limits to give up his Resources chairmanship in 2001. "The loss of Chairman Young's authority cannot easily be measured -- or replaced," Abramoff wrote on Jan. 4, 2001, in crediting Young with blocking reform legislation. "We have lost major institutional memory and friendship."

The story of Don Young's involvement with Abramoff in defeating federalization legislation is well-known in the CNMI. He has been praised as an ally of the CNMI repeatedly in editorials written by the Saipan Tribune's former anti-federalization columnists Charles Reyes (now Fitial's PIO), and John Del Rosario. I believe both Reyes and Del Rosario were participants in the lobbying plan outlined in the July 30, 1997 "secret memo" between Abramoff, Fitial, Eloy Inos, and Tan which outlined the strategy of enlisting "friendly writers" to support their positions and refute negative publicity. More on that later.

From Reye's, April 11, 2001 Saipan Tribune editorial:

"Don Young's Congressional investigation exposed the political shenanigans of our partisan Interior detractors...

In short, at the moment, everything seems fine and dandy where the garment industry and the Federal takeover are concerned. External grounds for worry appear to be rather absent at the moment. The CNMI is presently enjoying considerable success in warding off a hostile Federal takeover.

That success is due, in no small part, to Speaker Benigno R. Fitial and his impressive contacts in the nation's capital. Indeed, Speaker Fitial is probably the most well-connected CNMI leader in Washington, DC. He has the respect and support of key leaders in the nation's capital."

A February 18, 1999,
Saipan Tribune editorial by John Del Rosario, welcomes Don Young to the CNMI:

"On behalf of our people throughout the Northern Marianas Community, we take the distinct honor to welcome US Congressman Don Young to the NMI. As chairman of the US House of Representatives’ House Resources Committee with oversight jurisdiction on insular areas, we are grateful for your taking the time to visit the NMI.

In this February 24, 1999 editorial entitled, "Thanks Congressman Don Young", John del Rosario states:

"We’ve questioned the lordly illegal assumption of policy making by federal agencies in the NMI whose primary role is legally limited to the enforcement of federal laws and regulations. Herein lies the basic problem in our relationship: the presumptuous role in policy making never granted federal agencies here by law nor is it granted anywhere under the Covenant Agreement.

If you will, policy making is strictly the purview of the US Congress, no more, no less. This must be understood by federal agencies out here whose legal role is limited to law enforcement. With this premise being revisited anew (and thanks to Congressman Don Young for bringing it to the attention of federal officials in his recent visit) there might be a slight chance to realign NMI/federal relations."

Another Anchorage Daily article highlights the involvement between Mark Zachares, former CNMI Department of Labor and Immigration Chief, and Abramoff, Fitial, and Rep. Don Young. Zachares was indicted for his part in the Abramoff scandal, but he wasn't the only CNMI official tied to Abramoff. The billing records reveal many other willing involved participants and foot soldiers who lined up behind the A-Team including former Governor Froilan Tenorio, former Governor Pedro P. Tenorio, Speaker Fitial, the Western Pacific Economic Council, Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association, and many former CNMI Attorney Generals, Acting Attorney Generals, CNMI legislators, consultants, legal consuls, and more. Expect more indictments. The US Department of Justice seems to be sleeping, but I predict they will awaken very soon.

Expect also to see many more stories like the ones we've seen recently that focus on Rep. Don Young and former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R-CO). Expect stories that highlight the involvement of other members of the US Congress with Abramoff including Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Brian Billbray (R-CA), Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), Phil English (R-PA), Tom Feeney (R-FL), Jerry Lewis (R-CA),former Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX), Former Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA),former Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY), Rep Ken Calvert (R-CA), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), to name some.

Here is a video by Josh Marshall from Talking Points Memo TV that discusses the Abramoff, Bob Schaffer, CNMI connection.

5 comments:

KAP said...

Another domino. Mauer's piece is excellent.

Idly I wonder if Pizzella had anything to do with DOL's minimum wage report not having enough 'resources' to actually contain information.

Site Administrator said...
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Site Administrator said...

That is an excellent question!

I heard this will be one of many stories to come out detailing Don Young's Abramoff-CNMI connections.

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Saipan Writer said...

Ken, I also think your question is very interesting. How would one find out the answer?