Bob Schaffer - Mark Udall Update

April 22, 2008

Wendy L. Doromal

Money Questions - Links to Abramoff
Reporter Lynn Bartels of The Rocky Mountain News reported on April 18th that Colorado Senate candidates Bob Schaffer and Mark Udall both accepted campaign contributions linked to Jack Abramoff. While Mr. Schaffer denies any Abramoff connections, Mr. Udall will be donating the $1,500 he received to one of my favorite charities. The article states:

"Udall on Wednesday announced he was donating the $1,500 he received from firms where Abramoff worked to a Saipan group that aids the victims of human trafficking."

(Thank you Mark Udall for taking this responsible action!)

The opponents' two campaign managers exchanged accusations and barbs:

"There's only one candidate in the Colorado Senate race who has accepted money from Jack Abramoff, and that is Boulder liberal Mark Udall," Schaffer's campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, said.

Udall's campaign says otherwise, noting that Schaffer got about $33,000 for his congressional campaigns from groups or political action committees "directed and influenced" by the now jailed lobbyist. For example, Schaffer received almost $5,000 from former Rep. Tom Delay's PAC, to which Abramoff donated $26,000.

"Bob Schaffer took Abra- moff's money, went on Abra- moff's junket and dedicated himself to Abramoff's game plan, propping up a corrupt system of sweatshops and forced abortions, and flat-out attacking the good people trying to change that system," Udall spokeswoman Taylor West said."

The article didn't mention that former Rep. Bob Schaffer also took contributions from CNMI residents affiliated with the garment industry. From 1997 until 2005, Schaffer received $9,400 from campaign contributors from the Saipan 96950 zip code. Most of the contributors were, or still are affiliated with the garment industry: Jerry Tan, Paul Zak, Richard Pierce, Jay Jones, Benigno Fitial, Kidong Choi, Joseph Butters, and Marion Aldan-Pierce.

As a foot soldier for the A-Team, Schaffer was helping lobbyist Jack Abramoff protect the CNMI garment industry. Abramoff was the lobbyist not just for the CNMI government, but also for the CNMI garment industry.

In a 1995 article in the Weekend Standard it was reported:

"Over the last decade, the Tan family and their companies have spent at least US$200,000 (HK$1.6 million) on lobbying and contributions to Washington political campaigns."

When the CNMI government ran out of lobbying money in 1998, the Tan companies and Tan-run organizations came to the rescue according to the article:

"To keep Abramoff on its side, the Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association teamed with the local hotel association, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and the CNMI Contractors Association to form the Western Pacific Economic Council. The new group paid Preston Gates US$2.4 million in 1999 and 2000."

In fact, in March 1999 The Western Pacific Economic Council contracted Abramoff to lobby against CNMI federalization and a raise in the minimum wage. The lobbying firm continued the original game plan they had drafted with Governor Pedero P. Tenorio, Speaker Fitial, and garment magnate Willie Tan.

Tan had ties and friends in all of the organizations making up WPEC - with Lynn Knight (Chair of Hotel Association Northern Mariana Islands, former Saipan Chamber of Commerce President, and Tan employee), Ron Sablan (HAMNI president, former Marianas Visitor's Authority board member, Chair of WPEC), Richard Pierce (Tan employee and President of Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association) Marian Aldan-Pierce (President of Saipan's Duty Free Shops, Marianas Visitors Authority board member), and Jerry Tan (Vice-President of Tan Holdings, Chair of Marianas Visitors Authority). They also had direct links (and still do) to Benigno Fitial who was Speaker of the CNMI House. A February 2000 Saipan Tribune story states:

Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Lynn Knight has appointed board director Richard A. Pierce to work with the House Committee on Federal and Foreign Relations in his capacity as co-chairman of the Government Relations Committee.

In a letter to House Speaker Benigno Fitial, Ms. Knight said the Chamber remains committed to assist the lawmakers in their efforts to improve the CNMI-Federal relations and informing the U.S. lawmakers about the island’s position on important economic issues.

This July 6, 1999 Saipan Tribune story details that WPEC opposes any federal takeover:

"The Western Pacific Economic Council (WPEC) has issued its position on the federal takeover proposals awaiting actions in both houses of the Congress, noting the relentless attacks and accusations against the Northern Marianas in recent months.

"WPEC cautions against any deviation from the position that the CNMI Covenant should be protected at all costs," the group said in a statement. "WPEC cautions against any change in position where total local control of immigration and minimum wage should be protected."

The article continues:

"In addition, strong advocacy by the House Resources Committee, support and understanding in key House committees considering legislation affecting the CNMI, and the protection of House procedures, it will be important to have support from the leadership in both the Houses.

All of this is a tall order given the increased negative press the CNMI has received and will receive, WPEC said."

Bob Schaffer was on the House Resources Committee in 1999.

Schaffer Being Attacked by Anti-Abortion Groups
The Denver Post reported that Colorado anti-abortion groups are attacking Schaffer for defending human rights conditions in the CNMI. Tim Hoover reproted:

"Colorado Right to Life accused Schaffer of closing his eyes to reports from Chinese workers on the islands about forced abortions. And Steve Curtis, the head of American Right to Life Action, an offshoot of Colorado Right to Life, said Schaffer should explain his stance.

"The pro-life movement will no longer give a pass to candidates like Bob Schaffer who look the other way when Chinese women are forced to abort their children," Curtis, also a former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, said in a statement Thursday.

The two groups said they requested to meet with Schaffer on the issue but were turned down."

The story continues with a former Chinese American requesting an apology from Schaffer:

Schaffer's appraisal of the Marianas Islands contrasts with a litany of government reports, investigations by human-rights groups and findings by journalists in the 1990s that portrayed near-slavery conditions where, in addition to forced abortion, allegations of child prostitution and the prohibition of religious activities were common.

According to Colorado Right to Life officials, Shiu Yon Zhou, a member of the group, was forced to undergo a forced abortion in China and later sought refuge in the U.S., where she eventually became a citizen.

She said Schaffer should "apologize for being part of the problem. He calls himself pro-life, but how can he be when he is not outraged by Chinese forced abortion?" she said.

Schaffer's Campaign Manager Attacks Human Rights Advocate

Well, I must have hit a nerve. Schaffer's campaign follows the CNMI-Abramoff strategy of attacking the messenger. Reporter Lynn Bartels of The Rocky Mountain News reports that Schaffer's campaign manger, Dick Wadhams called Wendy Doromal a "left-wing activist who came up with her own version of events."

" 'Big deal' is all I can say about her," he said.

The criticism doesn't surprise those who know Doromal, including Dennis Grennia, who works for a social justice group in Washington, D.C. He said Abramoff's strategy called for discrediting Doromal at every step, and Wadhams appears to be following the script.

Doromal, who received an award this month from Archbishop Desmond Tutu for her teaching and human rights activities, now lives in Florida. She taught in the Marianas during the 1980s and '90s and said she became a human rights activist after workers - many in textile factories - came to her about their working conditions.

She served as investigator for the U.S. Department of the Interior and helped write its 1998 report outlining worker abuses in the territory. That report was forwarded a congressional committee of which Schaffer was a member.

"I have the documents where a Chinese worker states she was told to have an abortion on Saipan or return to China," Doromal said. "Everything was documented."

Schaffer said he discussed the issue of forced abortions with the Catholic bishop and other Catholic leaders during his trip.

"None of them could confirm any examples or episodes of this," he told the Rocky Mountain News.

But Doromal said it was a human rights advocate for the Catholic Diocese who first exposed the abortions.

"Bob Schaffer's comments don't make sense," she said.

For more on Bob Schaffer check out Politico, TPM Muckraker, CBS News, and


Eyes on you now said...

Most of the contributors were, or still are affiliated with the garment industry: Jerry Tan, Paul Zak, Richard Pierce, Jay Jones, Benigno Fitial, Kidong Choi, Joseph Butters, and Marion Aldan-Pierce.

As a foot soldier for the A-Team, Schaffer was helping lobbyist Jack Abramoff protect the CNMI garment industry. Abramoff was the lobbyist not just for the CNMI government, but also for the CNMI garment industry.

Will the US put these folks in jail? I think the islanders could redeem themselves by locking up this crew. I don't know many of these people but Paul Zak has been called the sleeziest man in Saipan...what a core group.

Anonymous said...

Whatever who wrote again Paul Zak about sleeziest (wrong spelling for sleazy)had bad grammar and spelling,this person had no Idea what he was saying about Paul,he helped many people in this island and he had no control in garment factory since Advance Textile was burned down , and he is not the core of the group FYI in CNMI Garment the most powerfull is the President of SGMA and the owner of the garment and Paul had no power and money to invest for lobbying in washington I'll take that for sure.