Corker Campaign Says Ford Needs To Explain Abramoff Ties

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Bob Corker for Senate campaign said Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. "should fully explain and acknowledge his relationship with 'Team Abramoff' lobbyists."

Campaign finance reports show Congressman Ford received thousands in donations from “Team Abramoff” members including a “dinner reception” paid for by a lobbyist the Associated Press described as “a member of Jack Abramoff's tribal lobbying team at the Greenberg Traurig law firm,” the Corker campaign said.

“Harold Ford has been in Washington too long if he thinks Tennesseans will believe his flimsy denials of something so clearly evident in the public record,” said Corker campaign manager Ben Mitchell.

On Thursday of last week, Congressman Ford issued a statement saying, “Bob Corker (and the other Republican candidates) should disclose what Jack Abramoff and his associates gave them over the years and they should donate that money to a charity of their choice immediately.”

The Corker campaign has not received any money from Jack Abramoff or his associates, it was stated.

Mr. Mitchell said, "However, in direct contradiction to the denials by the Ford campaign, the public record clearly shows donations to Congressman Ford from individuals the Washington Post describes as 'Team Abramoff' lobbyists."

He said in Saturday’s Knox News Sentinel, Ford spokesperson Carol Andrews was quoted as saying, “Congressman Ford has not received any Abramoff money - period, paragraph, end of story.”

But Congressman Ford’s campaign filings show at least seven donations including payment for a “dinner reception” by “Team Abramoff” lobbyists, the Corker campaign said.

These were listed by the Corker campaign as:

Lobbyist Michael D. Smith – Ford’s campaign finance reports show a $500 donation by Mr. Smith on 4/10/01, a $500 donation on 3/05/03, a $250 donation on 6/12/03, and a $973.55 payment for a “dinner reception” on 3/12/02. The Associated Press reported Mr. Smith was “a member of Jack Abramoff's tribal lobbying team at the Greenberg Traurig law firm.” (AP 12/4/05). Mr. Smith’s lobbying disclosure forms show he also lobbied for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, and the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana.

Lobbyist Edward Ayoob – Ford’s campaign finance reports show a $500 donation from Mr. Ayoob on 7/14/05. The Washington Post described Mr. Ayoob as a member of “Team Abramoff,” calling the associates a “tight-knit group who worked under Abramoff when he was at the lobbying helm of the Washington office of Greenberg Traurig LLP and, before that, Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds LLP.” (Washington Post 6/25/05)

Lobbyist Alan Slomowitz – Ford’s campaign finance reports show a $1000 donation from Mr. Slomowitz on 3/15/04. Mr. Slomowitz’s lobbying disclosure forms filed with the Secretary of the Senate show he lobbied for Abramoff clients including the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, and SunCruz Casino LLC. lists Mr. Slomowitz among members of “Team Abramoff.”

Lobbyist Stephanie Short – Ford’s campaign finance reports show a $250 donation from Ms. Short on 6/13/03. The Washington Post reported Ms. Short “work[ed] for Abramoff as a Coushatta lobbyist.” (Washington Post, 3/13/05)

“Congressman Ford needs to explain all his dealings with Team Abramoff and acknowledge that his recent denials were completely false and misleading. Tennesseans have the right to the truth about the Congressman's connection to these lobbyists,” said Mr. Mitchell.

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