Sunday, January 01, 2006

Report: Group linked to DeLay funded by Abramoff clients

Report: Group linked to DeLay funded by Abramoff clients

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An organization with close ties to Rep. Tom DeLay was funded largely by corporations associated with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Washington Post reported on Saturday, citing tax records and quoting former associates of the group.

Tax records, other documents and interviews bring into question the purpose of the U.S. Family Network, which functioned mostly by collecting funds from domestic and foreign businesses whose interests coincided with DeLay's activities while he was serving as House majority whip from 1995 to 2002, and as majority leader from 2002 until the end of September, the paper wrote.

During its five-year existence, the U.S. Family Network raised $2.5 million, but kept its donor list secret, the paper reported. That list, obtained by the Washington Post, showed that $1 million of its revenue came in a single 1998 check from a now-defunct London law firm whose former partners did not identify the money's origins.

According to the paper, two former associates of Edwin Buckham, the Texas Republican Delay's former chief of staff and organizer of the U.S. Family Network, said Buckham told them the funds came from Russian oil and gas executives. Abramoff had been working closely with two such Russian energy executives on their Washington agenda.

A spokesman for DeLay, who is fighting in a Texas state court unrelated charges of illegal fundraising, denied that the contributions influenced the former House majority leader's political activities, the paper wrote.

Russian energy executives who worked with Abramoff denied knowing anything about the million-dollar London transaction described in tax documents, according to the Washington Post.