CNMI Lobbyist Kevin Ring's Conviction Stands

January 26, 2013

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, DC upheld the conviction of Kevin Ring who was convicted of bribing public officials as part of the Abramoff scandal. In November 2010, after his first trial resulted in a hung jury, Ring was found guilty in his second trial on five charges, including conspiracy, honest services fraud and giving an illegal gratuity to an aide of former Attorney General John Ashcroft.  After he was sentenced to 20 months in prison, he appealed the charges.

From The Washington Post:
Ring was convicted of helping arrange a $5,000-a-month job for the wife of his former boss, then-Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., for which she did little work, and of corrupting two public officials with his gifts. Those officials included an aide to John Ashcroft, attorney general under President George W. Bush, and the then-chief of staff to ex-Rep. Earnest Istook, R-Okla. Ring took them out to expensive restaurants and gave them tickets to sporting events and concerts. 
The gifts themselves were not illegal when Ring gave them. Jurors convicted him because they determined he gave them with an illegal intent to corrupt the public officials. In response to the Abramoff scandal, Congress passed a law in 2007 prohibiting lobbyists from giving such gifts.
Twenty other defendants charged in the Abrmoff scandal opted to cooperate with the government rather than go to trial.  Ring was the only one charged in the case who took his case before a jury. Aside from Jack Abramoff, Ring also received one of the harshest sentences. Most of the other defendants received plea deals that did not include prison terms.

Ring directly conspired with Abramoff, Governor Fitial, Willy Tan, former disgraced Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), former convicted felon Tom DeLay and others to prevent federalization of the CNMI immigration system as detailed in email exchanges. His name appears in the CNMI-Abramoff billings record over 250 times.

From a previous Unheard No More! post:
Edmonds called him the "sugar daddy" who "gave out goodies over and over again." Ring reached into Abramoff's treasure chest of tickets continually to reward members of Congress, federal officials and staffers who followed the lobbyists' agenda pushing or blocking legislation to benefit their clients. There were sky boxes, tickets to sporting events and tickets to concerts featuring stars such as U-2, the Dixie Chicks and Paul McCartney. 
That treasure chest was provided by CNMI's Willie Tan who gave Abramoff money for the bribes as is documented by an email between the two conspirators. On March 28, 2000 Abramoff sent Willie Tan an email requesting payment for suites at Camden Yards, MCI Center, and JKC stadium. The bill indicates that the total was $223,679 and Arbamoff was asking for the quarterly fee of $55,919.75.  (See also this post.) 
The ruling of the court reinforced that the corrupt lobbying practices that so many lobbyists and their political allies defend as acceptable political  practices are, indeed, criminal acts.

Since he was released from prison, Jack Abramoff has made it his mission to admit some of his guilt and to push lobbying reform.

Ring, on the other hand, has defiantly defended his illegal acts and refuses to accept responsibility for his acts.  His acts were not victimless. Every CNMI foreign worker was and remains adversely impacted by the illegal deeds of these conspirators. Perhaps 20 months in prison will help him to see his wrong doings.

The court opinion is interesting. It even quoted Steven Spielberg's recent film, Lincoln. The opinion states:
"The distinction between legal lobbying and criminal conduct may be subtle, but, as this case demonstrates, it spells the difference between honest politics and criminal corruption."
Read it here: