One way Davis accomplished his goal was by passing money to Republican candidates through the US Family Network. It is already well-establshed that the US Family Network was a front receiving money from Willie Tan, the Chinese businessman who owned sweatshops in the Marianas Islands. Follow the story to learn Davis's ties to USFN, Willie Tan, and Abramoff.
Davis wrote the largest NRCC check to a DeLay/Tan front organization, lobbying for continued deplorable sweatshop conditions by kidnapped immigrants on US soil.
Bill Moyers summarized the extensive web Wednesday on the PBS show, Moyers on America.
The U.S. Family Network, Inc. (USFN) was founded in 1996 by Ed Buckham, who also served as the organization's consultant. USFN was a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) corporation. When the Democrats sued USFN, the service was made on William J. Olson of McLean, then in Davis's district. It was founded in Virginia, with principal offices in the District of Columbia in the same building as Buckham's consulting firm Alexander Strategy Group and Tom DeLay's political action committee Americans for a Republican Majority (ARMPAC.
Tom Davis signed the check to the USFN in an amount that was the largest single donation the NRCC ever made, $500,000. The check was never approved by the executive committee. The NRCC, sweatshop owner Willie Tan, and an Abramoff tribal client provided more than half of the USFN's entire budget.
USFN obtained another $1 million in "directed donations" from lobbyist Jack Abramoff's Russian clients.
The USFN was found to be a pass-through PAC in violation of campaign contribution laws.
A RICO suit alleged that US Family Network existed to hide the source and control of donated funds. The Washington journal Roll Call speculated that the group also existed to make statements and take actions on behalf of (or in opposition to) candidates that the NRCC would be embarrassed to do directly.
Robert Dreyfuss wrote in the February 4, 2000, Texas Observer that in Fall 1999, according to Roll Call, the NRCC gave the Network the $500,000 to "turn out conservative Christian voters on election day."
Additionally, on April 28, 2000, the Texas Observer reported that the "editors at Roll Call hired a tax accountant and consulted industry and academic authorities. Yet no one could figure why a 'grassroots lobbying' political action committee linked to Tom DeLay has raised $1.3 million from only five donors - then spent the money to buy a D.C. townhouse and a truck (registered at Buckham's home), and to lease a skybox at the Redskins stadium for fifteen years.
"Roll Call describe[d] U.S. Family Network as one of a 'web of interlocking groups revolving around DeLay and Ed Buckham, his former chief of staff and top political advisor.'"
The firm Liberty Consulting, owned by Tony Rudy's wife Lisa, was paid $15,600 by the USFN in 1999 and $10,400 in 2000.
The FEC fined the NRCC for the half-million transfer. From the FEC press release:
The FEC has entered into a conciliation agreement with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) resulting from its 1999 transfer of $500,000 in soft money to the U.S. Family Network (USFN) to pay for issue advertisements. The NRCC violated the Act by making the transfer to USFN knowing that USFN planned to transfer at least some of the funds to a third party to pay for issue ads in the 2000 election cycle. As part of the conciliation agreement, the NRCC agreed to pay a $280,000 civil penalty.
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In the fall of 1999, USFN solicited $500,000 in soft money from the NRCC to pay for "media and grassroots." After initially denying these requests, the NRCC donated $500,000 to USFN without following its usual procedures to approve and process large donations. Prior to the donation, Ed Buckham, the founder of USFN, had agreed with Jim Ellis, who was affiliated with Americans for Economic Growth (AEG) [an Abramoff=Grover Norquist group], that AEG would run radio ads accusing Democrats of planning to raid the Social Security Trust Fund surplus. After receiving the NRCC's $500,000 donation, USFN transferred $300,000 to AEG. AEG then spent approximately $260,000 for [those] ... ads...."
Defeat Tom Davis! Donate to and volunteer for his Democratic challenger, Andy Hurst today.