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Last Wednesday America took a step towards ending the Republican moral twilight we've endured for more than a decade.

George Miller and his colleagues introduced the Human Dignity Act to end the abuse on the Commonwealth on Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and shut it down as a gateway for terrorists and a haven for money laundering, human trafficking, drug running and international criminal networks. (No wonder Tom and Jack like Saipan so much).

For 20 YEARS the abuse has flourished. 12 years ago there was bi-partisan agreement to end the abuse and extend US laws to CNMI. Then Jack Abramoff entered the picture. With the backing of Tom DeLay and the GOP he managed to protect a system where law and morality did not exist.

To underscore why HR 5550 is needed, Rep. Miller released a suppressed 2002 report analyzing the security risks to the mainland from the lack of Federal oversight on Guam and CNMI.

It is an indictment.

Let's Jump.

When the subject of Abramoff's work for the Tan Family and the government of the CNMI is mentioned the standard narrative is that it was all about blocking the extension of US labor laws to the US Territory. That story line is only partially correct.

Stopping the efforts of human rights workers, President Clinton and a majority of Senators and Congressmen from ending the abuse of workers was one of the tasks that Jack did for his Hong Kong based patrons. But there were many other tasks as well.

One Family holds the power over CNMI. And much of the rest of the Pacific rim. It is the Tan Family. A 3-29-2001 Saipan Tribune article told the story of the Families rise to power:

Thirty years since its entry into the region's business community, Tan Holdings Corporation has grown from a shipping company in 1971 to a major contributor of economic growth in the small island nations of the Western Pacific Region today.

A $200-million corporation, THC has, since then diversified and now operates a myriad of business activities that include real estate, insurance, hotel, airline agent and airport service. [snip]

It opened L&T International in 1982 to bring the film distribution to another level. L&T International was established to oversee trading, cinema and family entertainment businesses, according to Dr. Tan.

Within the same year, THC invested into what is now the company's biggest business activity -- garment manufacturing. THC launched its apparel manufacturing operation on Saipan before it expanded to the Philippines, China. Cambodia, Indonesia, and Guatemala.

THC has also infused huge investment into Pohnpei and plans to expand to other island-states in the Micronesian region. It also set up an office in Japan which had grown to become one of the largest suppliers of tuna in that North Asian country. [snip]

"I believe that people who work hard to survive difficult situations will come out stronger. Difficulties give us new opportunities to be better than what we are today," says THC President Willie Tan. [snip]

THC has made major economic contributions in the West Pacific and Mr. Tan says the company is not stopping there. "We are going to do more. We will reaffirm our commitment to social responsibility. We will maintain the beautiful, clean environment where we do business."

He lays down plans to make THC the Western Pacific Region's counterpart of America's General Electric, a world-renowned company operating various businesses in different industries.

"We will expand. We will explore acquisitions, particularly in tourism and real estate development. You will hear our vision to become the most admired company in the region," he told participants to the first annual THC conference at the Hyatt Regency Saipan.

One does not become the GE of Asia without a power base in both the United States and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Fortunately for the Tan Family they had both.

Their connections to China are long and deep. The Family is based in Hong Kong. They are building a garment manufacturing city in Dongguan, Guangdong province. They are partners with the PRC in many business deals, in many countries.

For ties with the US they would have to build relationships based on cash, greed and mutual self-interests. They were so lucky that Newt Gingrich and his 1994 GOP revolution took power in DC. They were also lucky that Newt, Tom, Ricky and the boys needed a star lobbyist to be the point of the spear for The K Street Project. Enter Jack Abramoff, stage extreme right.

It was only a matter of time before the Tan Family introduced their American Team to the PRC Team. And it was only a matter of time before their American Team started doing favors for the Tan Family's Chinese partners.

That back-story brings us to the suppressed security report. It was compiled in 2001 after 9-11. It painted a picture of a back door security gap into the USA. It exposed the seamy underbelly of the CNMI system of human trafficking. It exposed the deep financial ties between the PRC and the local CNMI and Guam governments and business community. It exposed an unregulated system of banks and casinos. It exposed the GOP's Hong Kong and PRC patrons.

Of course it had to be suppressed. As Sherlock Google's Diaries have detailed, Rove, Ashcroft and Abramoff suppressed this report and had the authors re-assigned for doing their best to protect America. That created the illusion that the report was "classified". In a way it was as the preface makes clear:

The dissemination of this report or any information contained herein, is at the sole discretion of the United States Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or his authorized representatives.

So by replacing Robert Meissner, a DOJ regional security specialist and acting US Attorney, Frederick Black with hand picked cronies, Rove and Abramoff were able to keep the report out of the public eye for two election cycles. Thanks to George Miller the truth can come out.

The good folks over a TPMmuckraker have posted the 34 page report. It is a damning document, not only of DeLay and Abramoff, but also of George W. Bush and the entire Republican Party. They sold our security to protect DeLay's Petri-dish of Capitalism from oversight and justice.  The Executive Summary says it all (emphasis added):

The Districts of Guam and the CN.M.I. are considered at the present time to be high risk security areas. Both districts have major threat potential and critical vulnerabilities.  [snip]

If the present high risk environment is allowed to stand, it will continue to threaten Federal and public interests and seriously jeopardize the national security of the United States.

The lack of Federal jurisdiction over immigration, customs and financial matters coupled with a long history of deliberate territorial indifference to corrective action, creates an atmosphere which fosters criminal activity and public corruption, prevents Federal authorities from achieving optimum effectiveness in their enforcement of U.S. law, and produces critical security obstacles for Federal agencies. [snip]

The present environment produces its own threats and vulnerabilities and is currently being exploited by transnational criminal organizations and possibly by terrorist groups. All present an immediate danger to personnel, operations, and assets of the U.S. Attorney's office and those of other Federal agencies.

The Covenants and Compacts developed for the insular areas of the United States were a product of the 1980s. The factors which dictated their provisions have changed radically since that time. The current national focus on the war on terrorism requires realistic, current and proactive protective measures to safeguard U.S. citizens and interests. Guam and the C.N.M.L are two strategic areas which constitute the western most border of the U.S. homeland. Maximum protection of these vital areas is mission essential to U.S. interests.

Without trivializing a serious situation the current security posture of Guam and the C.N.M.L is analogous to a fence on the "back forty" with a number of large holes in it; everyone is focused on the front gate and little attention is being paid to the outer perimeter. The present security posture is "soft" and if left unattended there is a high probability that existing critical vulnerabilities will be exploited by a deliberate act against Federal, military or civilian interests. Therefore, a complete and in-depth review of deficiencies and policies vis-a-vis the relationships between the U.S. Government and the Governments of Guam and the C.N.M.L is urgently needed. [snip]

It is strongly recommended that all security shortfalls cited herein and which adversely affect the U.S. Attorney's Office and other Federal law enforcement agencies be thoroughly addressed at the earliest possible opportunity in the interest of public safety and national security.

Of course with our National security on the line, the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress took action. At the request of Jack Abramoff on behalf of the Tan Family and the PRC the report's authors were "reassigned" and the report itself was buried. The security loopholes that were identified almost five years ago have only grown.

The report is filled with damning details. Our Nation has been kept willfully vulnerable so that Bush and the GOP could keep the flow of off-the-books money into the US political system. There are many details in the report, but I wanted to point out a few.

First, here is how the guest workers are fairing in DeLay's Petri dish:

The large number of alien workers on Guam and in the C.N.M.I. have impacted negatively on the overall quality of health. In the C.N.M.I, the tuberculosis rate in 2001 was 85 cases per 100,000 of population. This is 15 times higher than in the U.S. The current infection rate is 48% lower than its peak in 1998 when the case rate was 164 per 100,000 of population. These high rates are credited to infected alien workers which occupy large percentages of the local work force. Approximately 60% of the alien work force have tested positive for tuberculosis and bloodborne pathogen diseases (human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B (HBV), malaria, syphilis, and Hepatitis C).

And here is a quick snapshot of  Immigration and Customs as run by the CNMI:

Guam and the C.N.M.I. are outside the Federal customs jurisdiction of the United States. Primary border control is handled by local Guam and C.N.M.I. customs officers. There are however U.S. Customs agents on Guam who pursue Federal criminal investigations on Guam and in the C.N.M.I. [snip]

In the C.N.M.I.' there is no primary Federal program oversight responsibility assigned to U.S. Customs, U.S. Treasury, U.S. Department of Labor, or U.S. Coast Guard.  The C.N.M.I. has the responsibility over its own immigration as well. There is no Federal INS oversight in the C.N.M.I. All of these functions are controlled by elements of the territorial government. The manner in which it controls these functions is ineffective at best. For example, C.N.M.I Immigration officials routinely allow unvetted aliens associated with international criminal organizations unencumbered entry into its territory.

Oh, and then there is the movement of money:

Three banks are not members of F.D.I.C. Banks and money remittance businesses have no designated Federal or territorial government oversight. Many Federal officials believe the lack of on-site assets to thoroughly oversee bank and money remittance businesses allows a lucrative environment for money laundering. On Guam and in the C.N.M.I., there is no Federal income tax. Taxes are paid directly to the territorial governments. The Government of Guam has been unable to produce any accounting to the Department of Interior for millions of dollars in Federal funding. [snip]

The system remains inoperable. Neither territorial government has a revenue enforcement capability. The Federal Internal Revenue Service has no jurisdictional oversight on Guam or in the C.N.M.I. This creates a permissive environment for a wide variety of illegal financial dealings. One ongoing case within the C.N.M.I. involves a small group of individuals who fraudulently obtained control of the Bank of Saipan and made loans without approval of the Bank's board for approximately nine million dollars.

I wonder if the lack of Federal oversight and the extension of US custom, immigration, customs and other laws to CNMI is causing any problems:

A recent incident involved the arrival of an Islamic cleric. In order to enter the C.N.M.I. legally, a boarding authorization letter issued by the territorial government is required before an individual can board an airliner destined for Saipan.  This individual arrived without such authorization. Evidently, sympathetic Muslim airline workers allowed the cleric to board in Bangladesh without a boarding letter.   In Saipan, the entry was challenged by territorial immigration officials at the airport: However, a supporter of the cleric called the territorial Attorney General's office and the airport immigration official was advised to allow entry. When the territorial AG's office was pressed by Federal officials for an explanation, none was provided.

Public corruption has a rich history on Guam and in the C.N.M.I, and has become an integral part of the political and territorial landscapes. The large influx of Federal funds coupled with an Asian business environment which encourages kickbacks and bribes creates a fertile environment for many types of white collar crime.  This type of criminal behavior occupies a large portion of investigative and prosecutorial assigned. [snip]

Bid rigging and kickback schemes seem to be the most prevalent. Each case further erodes the public confidence, initiates Federal action and, thus, provides a premise that local politicians and activists can use to develop anti-U.S. Government sentiment.

The illegal immigration situation within the C.N.M.I. is particularly critical. Illegal schemes abetted by public corruption have resulted not only in the entry of large numbers of illegal aliens but also members of transnational criminal organizations. As much as 60% of the population are non-citizens. Some officials indicated that as many as 10,000 -15,000 are illegal.   Individuals belonging to Chinese Triad gangs, Japanese Yakuza, Russian Mafia, and Korean Mafia organizations each participate to some degree in the criminal activity of the islands. Gambling, prostitution, drugs, money laundering and the exploitation of the large segments of the alien population are fully orchestrated by these organizations. Because of the Covenant provisions allowing the territorial government to regulate immigration and customs, Federal authorities cannot prevent entry and must therefore adopt a reactive approach. This greatly taxes meager Federal assets and creates an environment in which organized crime can flourish.

Money laundering investigations and prosecutions are significantly handicapped by the political empowerment of both Guam and the C.N.M.I. as specified by the Covenants currently in place. Unfettered access into the C.N.M.L and the presence of an unregulated international gambling casino on Tinian, allow for the perfect venue to launder illegal funds, regardless of their source. This situation is further compounded by the lack of any civil or criminal revenue enforcement by the territorial government or sufficient Federal assets to continually scrutinize banking and money handling businesses.

Time to remember the basic fact of the Abramoff scandal: Jack was a 25-year bagman for the GOP. He ran the slush fund. He needed to laundry money and lots of it.

Every Congressional trip Abramoff organized included a visit to Tinian. In 1997 Tom DeLay inserted language in the DOD appropriation to turn over land on Tinian for "development".

And as I mentioned in a recent Diary, Ney's Aide Cops Plea = BIG trouble for the GOP, the DOJ investigation is focusing on the bribes paid to CNMI Legislators from Rota and Tinian in exchange for their support of DeLay's candidate for Speaker of the CNMI House.

Now Tinian is a small island. It has two attractions. One is the historic sights from WWII, like where the Enola Gay took off to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The other is the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino. And it is referenced in the suppressed report:

The P.R.C. has built and currently operates a 600-room hotel and international gambling resort on the island of Tinian in the C.N.M.I. This facility has been in operation for approximately three years. Federal officials indicate that it has-never enjoyed more than a 20 percent occupancy rate and is believed to be a "marker" for mainland China with involvements in international money laundering operations. In March of 2002, this casino became the subject of investigation by Federal authorities because it received $3.5 million in fraudulent loans in connection with the Bank of Saipan fraud scheme cited earlier.

And more casinos are on the way. I wouldn't be surprised if DeLay is an investor in one of the two projects underway. After all he did the hard work of pushing through legislation and funding to build the infrastructure on Tinian and Rota.

And that is where the money is next. Willie Tan knows it. He was just named #4 in the Power 10, Pacific Magazine's list of the most influential people in the Western Pacific. The profile included this bit:

In Micronesia, Tan Holdings is making a huge play into tourism with the acquisition over the past few years of three hotels on Saipan, and one on Guam. Two of the hotels now operate under Tan's Fiesta Resort brand. The move into tourism comes as the company's core business, garment manufacturing, lessens in importance on Saipan. Indeed, Saipan-based garment manufacturing and logistics operations now report to Luen Thai Holdings in Hong Kong.

Among Tan Holdings' other activities: a regional freight airline; a marine shipping company; a travel agency; insurance company, regional distribution firm; an active regional fishing company; airport ground handling services; real estate investment and management companies, a daily newspaper, and a 10-screen movie theater complex on Guam.

Willie Tan's base is so broad, and his reach into the central Pacific via his fishing company and air freight carrier is so deep, that he has the ability to easily expand further if opportunities present themselves. Add that to Tan's significant commercial base in Asia (primarily China, Hong Kong and the Philippines), and his economic and related political power is among the most significant of any Pacific Islands-based executive doing business in the region today.

And that brings us back to why Rove and Abramoff suppressed the CNMI/Guam Security Report. Willie wanted them to.

This should be a National campaign issue. The Republican Party has some explaining to do. They put the interests of their Hong Kong patrons ahead of justice, security and American values.

We need to shame the GOP into action.

We need to support the Human Dignity Act. Call, write, and release the Netroots-- everybody needs to take a stand.

They used their offices and positions to protect abuse and promote injustice. They put the Government of the United States of America in the business of supporting sweatshops, human trafficking, force prostitution and forced abortion. And they did it for money and power.

We need to talk about this. We need to make this an issue for 2006. The more we talk about it the less likely it is that the Bush political appointees will be able to sweep the Abramoff/DeLay abuse investigation under the rug (once again).

Every member of the GOP Caucus who worked to block legislation extending US labor, immigration and custom laws to CNMI should be put on the defensive. The crimes were real and the evidence has been presented to Congress since before 1994.

It is time to hold these folks accountable: both as co-conspirators and at the ballot box.

2006 is now. Let's take our Country back!

Originally posted to dengre on Sun Jun 11, 2006 at 09:14 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And the report is getting some coverage (15+ / 0-)

    Conrad Burns is having trouble as the local Montana press is writinng about  the report.

    And so is the local press on Guam.

    Infact the Pacific Daily News has endorsed Miller's bill.

    •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, KenBee

      This was nice to see.  I wanted more (but don't we always) in terms of Burns being nailed and took a little comfort in Burns being hammered by Tester.

      You can bet the info in this article won't play well with those who still cling to the idea of voting for him.

  •  Wow. A lot more than slave labor (5+ / 0-)

    Most of what I had heard about CNMI & Guam was the "slave labor" part.  As is all too common these days, you hear about Repug corruption and say, "Damn, that's bad." And then it turns out it's 10 times worse.  This is yet another case.

    Thanks for the report.

  •  Very informative. Thank you. (4+ / 0-)

    The Republicans continue to be unbelievably hypocritical about common human decency.  I have claimed for a long time that you can pretty much guess what they are up to by what they are accusing others of.  So many have paid a huge price for their santimonious hypocracy.

  •  A possible link (5+ / 0-)

    My compliments on your work.  This was well written.  If I could ask you to add a portion, it would be to links involving congressional votes.  Yes, I supsect if I go well back into your prior reporting, I'll find it.  But it would be a whole lot easier and more effective for first timer's reading this--to pin down who in congress acted in what way.

    Other than that, this is a fantastic piece of work.  I think I've read your reporting on this topic before.  What stuck in my mind from prior reports on CNMI was the forced prostitution and resulting forced abortions.  I also recall something about Tom Delay talking about standing fast for what was right, before heading out for a Cockfight.  But this report's health impacts was totally new to me.

    I do agree with you whole heartedly that this needs to be put into the political debate more than it has.  Given the proclivity of the MSM to run interference, I'm not expecting it to get much play though.  

    A few weeks ago, I was watching a Washington week type of call in program on CSPAN when a woman from Texas was critical of DeLay for all this.  The person on the panel wrote it off as "bitter Democratic politics".  The moderator simply nodded, went for another caller and that was it.  I tried to call in to follow up, but the lines were jammed and I couldn't get in before the end of the show.  That woman was right on the money--but she allowed herself to be cut off by the Wing Nut Apologist.

    •  Not all the Congressional action were votes (0+ / 0-)

      Much of the effort was to prevent votes from taking place. Over and over again majorities in both the House and Senate supported reform. And DeLay, Hastert, Young and the rest block the Legislation.

      They also showered CNMI with pork. Perhaps as much as $28 million in 2001 alone. It is these earmarks that are hard to find, but judging from the plea agreements to date, I think the DOJ has found some of them.

  •  Excellent. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been catching this story in snippets here and there - nice to see it all gathered together into a comprehensible diary. Recommended!

    Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. - A.J. Liebling

    by va dare on Sun Jun 11, 2006 at 10:58:09 PM PDT

  •  You should (0+ / 0-)
    re-post this tomorow. It's 2:15 in he morning. I just got back from seeing Zappa plays Zappa in Philly. I'm a mess and will read this whole thing tomorrow. But what I've read is incredible.

    With a big ol' lie And a flag and a pie And a mom and a bible Most folks are just liable To buy any line Any place, any time ~ FZ

    by f furney on Sun Jun 11, 2006 at 11:07:02 PM PDT

  •  There is some of this regarding Kevin Ring (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and his involvement. He was on Ashcroft's staff as counsel while Ashcroft was still a Senator. I think Ring's connections with Ashcroft and Doolittle are of serious interest.
    See this at Dump Doolittle about Ring, the WH and CNMI.

    •  Kevin Ring was Abramoff pointman for CNMI (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When this report was suppressed, Kevin Ring was in charge of managing the CNMI accounts for Abramoff.

      He would be up to his eyeballs in this. Perhaps that's why the 11-2-05 PDF document dump from the Indian Affairs Committee included a great quote from Kevin Ring.

      Starting on page 285 and working backwards to page 284, Kevin Ring and Matt DeMazza discuss the article in a series of emails:

      Matt: So is it 100% Scanlon's fault, or is Jack partially to blame?

      Kevin: Jack is equally to blame. He talked the tribes into hiring Scanlon.

      Matt: That's what I gathered from the story, but I wasn't sure if you knew something that the reporter didn't know ...

      So is your future with G.T. in questions?

      Kevin: I don't think mine is. But the impact will be felt by everyone. Unsettling after buying a new house.

      I know more than the article and the truth is worse.

      Yes indeed, the truth is worse than we can imagine. This could be the Abramoff scandal motto.

      Another interesting fact is that Kevin's predecessor was Dennis Stephens. He managed the CNMI accounts for Abramoff when Jack worked for Preston Gates.

      Before he sttarted working for Jack, Dennis:

      served in various positions in the Reagan and Bush administrations, including a position in the Office of Presidential Personnel in the Reagan White House. In 1989, Dennis began working in Congress as a legislative assistant to Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX). In addition, Dennis has served as the legislative director for Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA).

  •  Excellent work dengre (0+ / 0-)

    This should be FP'd as well as recommended by all.
    Thanks so much for bringing us up to date on this story. This is progress.

       Speaking of progress,any news from HRC?
       Interesting that McCain just sent some $20,000 back to the Wyly Brothers, who were described in this comment:

    Four years ago, Dallas brothers Sam and Charles Wyly financed $2.5 million in ads run under the auspices of "Republicans for Clean Air" criticizing McCain in the week before GOP presidential primaries in California, New York and Ohio. Those ads promoted then-Texas Gov. Bush's environmental record and criticized that of McCain, the Arizona senator. Bush won the primaries in all three states.

        Why did McCain do that? CNN these dicks are 'being investigated' for tax evasion using offshore accounts. Patriots.
        Blowback at me about HRC was that the money was nothing.Your diary
        TV coverage of McCain's retun lasted three days. Google shows many items. It ain't 'nothing.'

    Somebody, do something, I got kids I care about, fer crying out loud!

    by KenBee on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 03:54:01 AM PDT

  •  It's a mystery... (0+ / 0-)

    ...why some of your diaries shoot up the Rec List, while others are barely noticed.  They're all must-read for me.

    From one specialist in one arcane little pustule of corruption to another - it's an odd little obsession, but needs doing.  So thanks for your hard work.

    Keep it up!

    •  Did you notice the comment about Dennis Stephens (0+ / 0-)

      I posted earlier. He is still at Preston Gates. But from 1996 to 2001 he managed the CNMI accounts for Abramoff.

      He used to be on Pombo's staff. I wonder when that was and what he did.

      •  I did, and was left curious... (0+ / 0-)

        Pombo's as much about his staff as anything.  And I have the impression he's had some mentoring in choosing staff.  One friend who crossed passed with them in person had the impression that they're real piranhas.  

        (Which probably insults that group of fish, many of which are vegetarians, and use their strong jaws to crack big tough seeds and nuts which find their way into the water.)

        I'd actually like to see some Wiki-style resource that pays more attention to these staff.  You know, people like Susan Ralston which tie the net together, but are rarely mentioned by the media.  Timelines, with resumés and so on.

        Could be a website project with a title like Revolving Door.  I've made a file of anyone I've come across who's been mentioned as a Pombo staff member over the years.  Might make a good diary to string them all together like a "Roll Call" some time, with as much bio as I can dig up on each one.  Many have had stints as lobbyists.  Look at their travel, their clients, and so on.  And don't forget to include leadership staff, not just congressional office staff.

        Duane Gibson being a good example on the mining issue.  Dennis Stephens is a new name to me, but now I'm curious.

      •  Lexis Nexis on Dennis Stephens... (0+ / 0-)

        ...yields the following from Roll Call, Feb. 28 of this year from the Heard on the Hill "gossip" column:

        GOP Leadership High? Lobbyists are obviously getting very cozy attending the weekly staff meeting of the Republican Study Committee, a coalition of House conservatives. At Monday's RSC staff gathering, one lobbyist raised his hand not to ask a question but to berate a leadership aide over the leadership's decision to push a resolution praising the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He told the aide that GOP leaders "ought to lay off the bong."

        The lobbyist, Dennis Stephens, a longtime Republican activist with an extensive history on Capitol Hill, surprised many in the room with his outburst. He called the NAACP resolution "crazy" and said he wouldn't be able to explain it to his clients.

        Total of 19 hits from DC news sources for entire database.  Only one apparent hit on Google web (though I didn't dig through all the screens) and nothing on Google news.  Stephens is still with Preston Gates, graduated from University of Texas 1982.  This from PG website:

        Immediately before joining Preston Gates, Dennis was the legislative director for Rep. Roger Wicker (R-MS). While on the Hill, Dennis worked on issues before the House Banking, Resources and Appropriations Committees. He also focused on tax, budget and environmental issues in each of the offices in which he served. During his tenure in Majority Leader Armey's office, he served as the top tax and budget staff person for four years.

        From a Washington Times article, February 15, 1993:

        The defiant ones; Young conservatives steel themselves outside the gates

        When Mr. Bush lost, "everyone breathed a sigh of relief, especially on the Hill," says Dennis Stephens, 33, who worked in the Reagan White House and is now an aide to Rep. Richard Pombo, California Republican.

        Roll Call, February 18, 1993:

        Freshman Pombo Stocks New Staff With Hill Veterans

        Taking the LD post is another Hill veteran, 33-year-old Dennis Stephens, who moves to Pombo's office after serving as an LA for Texas Rep. Dick Armey (R) handling Banking Committee issues for the last three years.

        Prior to coming to the Hill, Stephens spent three years in the Reagan Administration, including posts in the Office of Presidential Personnel, the Commerce Department, and the Interior Department. Before that, he worked for a state Representative in the Texas legislature.

        Stephens earned his bachelor's degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin in 1982.

        Leaves me wondering about how Pombo made his staffing decisions.  That is, actually, who helped him out in making them.

        By October, Stephens moved to Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), also as Legislative Director.  So he wasn't with Pombo for long.

        Commenting on satirist pal Chris Manion in the Washington Times, May 3, 1994, we get a glimpse of his Schwarzenegger-esque philosophy:

        "A lot of conservatives are Johnny one-notes," says Hill staffer and friend Dennis Stephens. "Chris is a true Renaissance man. He reminds me of what philosoper Edmund Burke said about how you need an aristocracy, people who have an inclination to study, read and write as upholders of virtue so others can emulate them."

        December 1994, Stephens changed jobs again (Roll Call, December 19, 1994):

        Rep.-elect Steve Stockman (R-Texas) has corralled an AA, an LD, and a press secretary for his new staff.

        In charge of Stockman's herd is Dennis Stephens, who has been the LD for Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) for the last 14 months. He was previously an LD for Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif) for nine months. Stephens got his start on the Hill working for three years as an LA to the incoming Majority Leader, Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas). While with Armey, Stephens juggled much of the Congressman's domestic portfolio, including banking and tax issues.

        After working as an assistant to 1984 Reagan/Bush re-election campaign treasurer Bay Buchanan, Stephens was a political appointee in the Reagan Administration for three years. He worked first in Action, which was the federal domestic volunteer agency, and then served a couple of stints in the Office of Presidential Personnel. Directly after the 1984 campaign and before coming to Washington, Stephens worked for about a year in Texas for a state representative.

        A native of Houston, Stephens, 35, has a bachelor's degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin.

        Roll Call, March 9, 1995 tells us Stephens didn't last long in that office:

        In fact, Stockman's former AA, Dennis Stephens, complained that the practice cut into time available for work, Stockman said. Asked whether any of his staff had objected to the prayers, Stockman said, "I think Dennis didn't like it." Stockman said Stephens "wanted to change the time" of the prayer portion of the meeting, moving it back from about 8:40 to 8:20 a.m. because "he was feeling like it encroached on the day."

        But the Congressman insisted the morning prayer had nothing to do with Stephens's departure after just a month as his AA.

        Stephens, whose resume includes posts in the Reagan Administration before he moved to the office of Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas) from 1989 to 1993, now works as LD to Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss).

        Stephens declined comment

        Later in the year, Stephens found himself a job that he's stuck with for over a decade now.  This from Washington Times, October 1995:

        Dennis Stephens, former legislative assistant to Rep. Dick Armey, Texas Republican, joined the Washington law firm of Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds as government affairs analyst.

        Roll Call fills us in on where he'd been working since spring:

        OFF TO PRESTON: Dennis Stephens, most recently the legislative director to Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss), recently joined Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds as a government affairs analyst.

        Stephens is a long-time Republican party activist. After serving on Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign, he worked in the Office of Presidential Personnel under Ronald Reagan.

        He began his Hill service in 1989 as an LA to Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas). He later was LD to Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Richard Pombo (R-Calif).

        The Houston native also holds a bachelor's degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin.

        Stephens isn't mentioned in the DC press for a few years.  This from The Hill, Jul 17, 2002:

        K Street beckons Hill staffers Aides' experience and connections entice private sector

        When Armey's staff wants advice on the job search, they have plenty of resources to draw from. Former Armey aides include Ed Gillespie, co-founder of the lobbying shop Quinn Gillespie & Associates; David Hobbs, who lobbies for the White House; and Kerry Knott, a Microsoft lobbyist. Other former aides to the nine-term congressman are peppered throughout the administration and corporate world.

        Dennis Stephens, a lobbyist at Preston Gates & Ellis who once worked for Armey and other members of Congress during his years on the Hill, remembers how he had to prove he would be valuable as a lobbyist. After an interview, he was told "to make up a list of the people you know on the Hill and the issues you've worked on over the years."

        For anyone who's spent time in a leadership office, both of those lists will be impressive.

        "In leadership, you get to know the members directly, as well as their staffs," Gillespie said. "They're also very well respected and well regarded for their knowledge and hard work."

        But the lifestyle that comes with working in a leadership office is often what encourages staffers to leave when the opportunity presents itself.

        "The hours in leadership are very tough," Gillespie said. "It's hard on your family."

        For leadership staffers, the money on the outside can often be much greater than it was on the Hill as well. But the decision still remains a difficult one, according to several aides-turned-lobbyists. "It's more enjoyable to be the askee than the asker," Gillespie said. "You're leaving a position of power."

        Roll Call, July 17, 2005 is a little more on the topic:

        Abramoff, Armey: No Love Lost

        A grip-and-grin photograph of Armey and Abramoff obtained by Roll Call is undated but almost certainly from the '90s. Armey said that a picture featuring him with Abramoff could have been snapped at any number of events over the years during which the former Majority Leader posed with hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

        What both sides agree is that Abramoff and Armey have never been close - certainly not in the way that Abramoff was close to then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who was one rung below Armey in the leadership ladder. DeLay succeeded him as Majority Leader when Armey retired.

        Those sources also emphasize Abramoff would have been in Armey's office very rarely. In fact, they say Abramoff was never a frequent Hill dweller.

        Although Armey's office did work regularly with other lobbyists from Preston Gates, several ex-Congressional staffers and then-Preston Gates lobbyists say they don't recall any meetings between Armey and Abramoff.

        One former Preston Gates staffer remembers Abramoff attending a meeting with Dennis Stephens, a former Armey staffer and current lobbyist at Preston Gates, and Preston Gates client then-Gov. Pedro Tenorio of the CNMI in February 1998. Stephens did not return a call for comment.

        "If Dennis Stephens said I have a client, it is not impossible that [Abramoff] came along for a meeting," Armey said.

        Armey added that at some point in the late 1990s, "Our guys got a tip from somebody in the State Department [and] the fellow from the State Department advised don't meet with" Abramoff, Armey said. And if there had been previous meetings, they would have stopped then, he said.

        The spokesman for Abramoff, Andrew Blum, said that Armey was helpful to Preston Gates clients, particularly CNMI. And it has been widely reported that several former Armey Congressional aides traveled to the CNMI - though not the leader himself - to learn more about the commonwealth.

        News reports show that the CNMI at that time feared being included under U.S. minimum wage laws.

        The Abramoff spokesman also said that Abramoff agreed "to allow the use of his suites at the MCI Center and Fed Ex Field to be used by Mr. Armey," although the events would have been organized by other lobbyists at Preston Gates.

        Prince Georges County home sale, reported in WaPo July 28, 2005 may not be germane:

        OLD MILL RD., 14508-Timothy C. Ricketts to Dennis Stephen and Jacqueline Coles, $182,000.

        Seems a little low of a purchase price for someone who'd been a lobbyist for a decade, no?

        And that's it.  The rest of the entries seem not to apply to this individual.  Pretty low-profile it seems.

        Pretty long post for a stale diary, too.  Almost more like sending a private e-mail.  Hard to imagine anyone else will read this.

        Ah well.

  •  It is after midnight and I read this (0+ / 0-)

    and found it very interesting. I will reread all again tomorrow and will go over TPMmuckraker for the report. I will definitely have to write a letter to our paper, St. Louis Post-Dispatchabout Ashcroft suppressing this report. How slimely is he? Thanks so much.  

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