ABRAMOFF: A Cruz, Corruption and Congressman Ney
Abramoff, who has told others he is out of money, faced
trial in Miami on charges that he defrauded lenders in the $147.5 million
purchase of the SunCruz fleet of gambling boats based in Florida. Kidan pleaded
guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud in the SunCruz purchase, telling a court
he and Abramoff faked the wire transfer of a $23 million down payment to create
the appearance that they were putting their own money into the purchase in
order to obtain a $60 million loan.
Prosecutors have already told Ney and the Ohio Republican's
former chief of staff, Neil Volz, that they are preparing a possible bribery
case against them, according to two sources knowledgeable about the matter
who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Ney inserted statements into the Congressional Record
to promote the SunCruz deal, praising Kidan and casting aspersions on SunCruz's
then-owner, Boulis, during contentious purchase negotiations.
Boulis was killed in a gangland-style hit in Fort Lauderdale
on Feb. 6, 2001. Three men — including a business associate Kidan had hired
to provide catering and security services for SunCruz — were charged last
year in the Boulis murder.
Ney's SunCruz statements came even though the gambling
enterprise was thousands of miles away from his rural Ohio congressional district.
Ney later said he was misled. Ney also promised to help one of Abramoff's
tribal clients reopen a casino shut down by Texas authorities.
…and this is just today. Tomorrow, Abramoff is due to deal with
his troubles in Miami, which include very shaky cruise deal that had the mob
whacking one of Abramoff's partners.
But a central figure is Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney.
In the middle of the SunCruz scam, Michael Scanlan, Delay's former mouthpiece,
who now worked with Abramoff at his high profile firm, Preston Gates, approached
Ney to put comments in the Congressional Record. Like the good lap dog he is,
Ney complied, over and over again, even changing his tune when asked.
And just so you don't think my sources are all from the liberal
perspective, below are comments Congressman Ney put in the Congressional Record,
which are taken from the Weekly Standard's, 11.28.05 piece, “Money,
Mobsters, Murder,” which is a doozy. Ney is speaking throughout
below, with the italicized portions coming from the author of the piece, Matthew
Mr. Speaker, you hear many arguments surrounding
the gaming industry in America. Some have merit, some do not. Some criticism
is deserved, some is not. Mr. Speaker, before I make my statement today I
want to make it abundantly clear that while I am not an ardent proponent of
the gaming industry nor an ardent foe of the gaming industry, I am an ardent
foe of illegal activity in the gaming industry. Furthermore, I am an ardent
supporter of consumer rights and consumer rights is exactly what I intend
to discuss today.
At the heart of my comments today is
how certain gaming companies treat their patrons and how they conduct business.
I believe that the vast majority of casino owners play by the rules, treat
their patrons fairly, and provide quality entertainment for individuals and
families. I have talked with many of these businessmen over the years who
have conducted themselves in such a professional manner. However, there are
a few bad apples out there who don't play by the rules and that is just plain
One such example is the case of Suncruz casinos based
out of Florida. Florida authorities, particularly Attorney General Butterworth,
have repeatedly reprimanded Suncruz casinos and its owner Gus Boulis for taking
illegal bets, not paying out their customers properly and has had to take
steps to prevent Suncruz from conducting operations all together. In fact,
a few years ago the Broward County Sheriffs Office, under the supervision
of Mr. Butterworth, raided Suncruz ships, seizing their equipment.
Mr. Speaker, how Suncruz Casinos and Gus Boulis conduct
themselves with regard to Florida laws is very unnerving. But the consumer
rights issue is even more disheartening. On December 1, 1998, the Broward
County Sheriffs department announced that they had uncovered evidence that
dealers on SunCruz ships were “cheating passengers by using incomplete
decks of cards.” This type of conduct gives the gaming industry a black
eye and should not be tolerated.
Mr. Speaker, I want to repeat myself again. The vast
majority of casino owners and operators are good honest people, but when an
owner or operator stoops to this level to make a buck it hurts the public
and it hurts the industry as a whole. I believe we can strike a balance here
and our first step is to ensure that the average citizen is not hoodwinked
by a dishonest casino operator.
There should be clear codes of conduct that are adhered
to by every casino owner and operator. On the Ohio River we have gaming interests
that run clean operations and provide quality entertainment. I don't want
to see the actions of one bad apple in Florida, or anywhere else to affect
the business aspect of this industry or hurt any innocent casino patron in
Mr. Speaker, I hope that steps will be taken by the
industry, and in the case of lawbreakers by the appropriate authorities, to
weed out the bad apples so that we can protect consumers across the country.
But he did see, a few days later, the following
statement, which Rep. Bob Ney entered into the Congressional Record on October
Mr. Speaker, a few months ago I felt it necessary
to speak out against alleged abuses in the gaming industry. I did so not to
express disapproval of the gaming industry as a whole but to express my frustration
with those in the gaming industry who may unfairly take advantage of their
patrons. My earlier statement was related to the previous actions of SunCruz
Casino at the time and based on the findings of Florida Attorney General Robert
Butterworth and several news reports.
I was concerned that some individuals who participate
in gambling for entertainment and recreation can unwittingly fall prey to
unethical practices by a few rogue casino owners. I said then and will repeat
now that I am not anti-gaming, and I would not call myself pro-gaming either.
I do, however, strongly believe in the concept that those who choose to gamble
should be able to do so in the establishments of respected gaming interests
who treat their customers and their communities fairly.
Given the Attorney General's findings and the record
of SunCruz under the previous owner, I did not believe that the casino was
operating a fair and responsible establishment.
But things change:
Since my previous statement, I have come to learn that
SunCruz Casino now finds itself under new ownership and, more importantly,
that its new owner has a renowned reputation for honesty and integrity. The
new owner, Mr. Adam Kidan, is most well known for his successful enterprise,
Dial-a-Mattress, but he is also well known as a solid individual and a respected
member of his community.
While Mr. Kidan certainly has his hands full in his
efforts to clean up SunCruz's reputation, his track record as a businessman
and as a citizen leads me to believe that he will easily transform SunCruz
from a questionable enterprise to an upstanding establishment that the gaming
community can be proud of.
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of my statement is not to
criticize or promote the gaming industry or to favor one casino owner over
another, but rather stand by the consumers who patronize casinos as a form
of entertainment. I believe that every individual who visits a gaming vessel
in Florida, should know that they are gaming in an establishment that represents
the community well, and gives every individual a fair shot. I hope that all
casino owners and operators share in this philosophy. I look forward to the
positive changes Mr. Kidan is more than capable of bringing to the gaming
industry and I hope that others will follow his lead when he brings positive
changes to SunCruz.
You'll hear a lot from reporters in the MSM trying to be “fair
and balanced,” by naming Democrats along side the Republicans in this story.
However, it's a far stretch to conclude that Abramoff reached into both sides
of the aisle equally. In fact, it's wholly fallacious to say that, because all
you have to do is look at Tom Delay's K-Street project to learn that one of
the Delay's themes was to keep Democrats out of lobbying positions so the Bushies
could have all the power to themselves. No one exemplifies the corruption and
greed of the day in W.'s Republican held Congress more than Ohio's Bob Ney.