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That’s About $500 a Pound

This Jack Abramoff investigation is either going to take down some big-time power brokers, or Abramoff is going to die an unnatural death:

Wanted: Face time with President Bush or top adviser Karl Rove. Suggested donation: $100,000. The middleman: lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Blunt e-mails that connect money and access in Washington show that prominent Republican activist Grover Norquist facilitated some administration contacts for Abramoff’s clients while the lobbyist simultaneously solicited those clients for large donations to Norquist’s tax-exempt group.

Those who were solicited or landed administration introductions included foreign figures and American Indian tribes, according to e-mails gathered by Senate investigators and federal prosecutors or obtained independently by The Associated Press.

“Can the tribes contribute $100,000 for the effort to bring state legislatures and those tribal leaders who have passed Bush resolutions to Washington?” Norquist wrote Abramoff in one such e-mail in July 2002.

“When I have funding, I will ask Karl Rove for a date with the president. Karl has already said ‘yes’ in principle and knows you organized this last time and hope to this year,” Norquist wrote in the e-mail.

Here’s what’s weird about the Norquist/Abramoff connection: Grover Norquist — Executive Director of the College Republicans, boardmember of the NRA, head of Americans for Tax Reform, and a close friend of Karl Rove — is “the founder of the Islamic Insitute, a group believed to be funded by foreign governments, Wahhabi Islam elements in Saudi Arabia, and U.S. Muslim groups recently raided by a special Treasury Department task force for funding Al Qaeda and Palestinian terrorists.”

In addition, Norquist is married to a Muslim woman of Palestinian descent. This is no small thing: Islamic law forbids women from marrying non-Muslim men. This prompts “honor killings” in some parts of the world.

Jack Abramoff, on the other hand, is an orthodox Jew.

Now, I know that politics makes strange bedfellows, but really: Is this as absurd as it appears?

Added to this bizarre arithmetic of influence peddling is the revelation (word chosen purposefully) that former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed took $5.3 million from Abramoff to rally evangelicals in opposition to proposed casinos that would have competed with gambling operations owned by Abramoff’s Native American clients.

The love of money, eh? Good luck with that run for Lieutenant Governor, Ralph.

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