"Any important Republican who comes out and says they didn't know me is almost certainly lying."- Jack Abramoff
First diary - I love timelines. Complex criminal behavior is bestby giving it a narrative.
Many of the words below are those of Dengre, my hero, or other writers, I tried to put it all together in chronological order so there is a narrative.
Gillibrand has not hit Sweeney yet on his Abramoff connection nor even on his being Abramoff's salesman to the Marianas for Abramoff and his subsequent payoff by Greenberg Traurig. Don/t know why--it's working for Charlie Brown agtaianst Doolittle.
And what do you think of my use of Abramoff's famous Black Gangster Hat?
On the Marianas US Protectorate in the South Pacific, young women are forced into prostitution, really sex slavery, for the local sex tour industry for Asian businessmen. These women are called "Party Girls" and can be had for $70. When they inevitably become pregnant, they are forced to have abortions by their employers, often the Tan Family.
If Party Girls or Garment Workers Become Pregnant, They Are Forced TO Have Abortions
Because abortion on Saipan is illegal, most of the Chinese women have abortions at one of the Saipan clinics, which are disguised as acupuncture clinics, and clinics that offer massage and Chinese medicine. Two have been positively identified as abortion clinics (Wendy L. Doromal before the Senate's Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on March 31, 1998, Laura Myers, "Sen. Panel Hears of Marianas Abuses," Associated Press Online, 31 March 1998)
Charging the workers $7,000 to $10,000 for employment "fees", they are forced into overtime and basically indentured servitude. Island sweatshops produce clothing and other goods worth $2 billion annually. Each item can be labeled "Made In The USA", even though there are no minimum wage laws and workers cannot become US citizens. The Tan Family businesses together have more labor abuse violations that any other company in history. The Gap was the largest retailer making clothes in the Marianas, followed by Dayton-Hudson, May Department Stores, Wal-Mart and Jones Apparel, along with 13 other chains such as Nordstroms, J. Crew and The Limited.
Over the last decade, the Tan family and their companies have spent at least $200,000 on lobbying and contributions to Washington political campaigns. The Gap and Wal-Mart, for example, give campaign contributions to Congresspeople who protect their Marianas sweatshops, such as Rep. John Sweeney of New York. The Wal-Mart PAC alone gave Sweeney $13,500. More significantly, the commonwealth government and Saipan business associations invested more than US$11.5 million between 1995 and 2002 to lobby in Washington against changes to the islands' status. Most of that went to Jack Abramoff.
Following numerous smaller cases brought by the Labor Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against other plants, officials in Clinton's administration proposed curtailing Saipan's legal exemptions. The drive foundered on opposition by congressional Republicans, who were extensively wined and dined by the Tans. A picture of family members with President George W Bush hangs above Tan's desk in Hong Kong.
John Sweeney was hired right out of law school to be Executive Director and Chief Counsel of the New York State Republican Party. From there he was appointed by Gov. Pataki to be the New York State Commissioner of Labor from 1995 to 1997. He ran the next year for Congress. He currently receives contributions from more PACs than all of NY's 29 other Representatives.
September, October 1998 - In making his first run for Congress, John Sweeney receives contributions from The Gap PAC as well as the Wal-Mart PAC, companies who are in the top 5 running sweatshops in the Marianas, totaling $2,000. Sweeney also received $1,000 in October 1998 from UNITE HERE, a hospitality workers union with members in the Marianas, as well as $5,000 from Tom Delay and his ARMPAC fund.
January 1999 - John Sweeney sworn in as US Representative.
2000 - The deal was struck and DeLay's Congress showered CNMI with millions of dollars. Most of it went through the Transportation Committee, especially the Aviation Subcommittee, which John Sweeney sits on. In 2000, there was $1.25 million for resurfacing the runways for the airport on Rota. Jack's Congressional partners also changed the way that Airport Improvement Project money was appropriated to insure that CNMI got a little bit out of every dollar spent.
DeLay also tried to muscle the local government power company to turn over the operation of the power company to Enron as part of their reward for helping the CNMI keep it immigration laws local.
"When the Marianas put out a call for bids for a new $120 million power plant, a Japanese company was awarded the contract. Enron, attracted by the island's lack of environmental rules, wanted in and complained to DeLay that they had not been given a fair shot at the contract for the power plant.
DeLay responded by calling in some chits from his friends in the Mariana administration - in particular Ben Fital, a conservative politician whom DeLay's former aides, Ed Buckham and Mike Scanlon, helped get elected as the island's representative in Congress.(The Washington Post reported that Buckham's lobbying firm, Alexander Strategies Group's representation of Enron's interests in the Marianas won him $50,000 in fees.)
Delay demanded that the power plant bidding be re-opened and that Enron's bid be given new consideration.
And so it came to pass. The bidding was re-opened and Enron was declared the winner. Apparently, free-market mechanisms like open bidding are only good when they favor the right player. Islanders say the bidding was rigged in Enron's favor.
"There were all kinds of political pushes from the top and the side and every way," Vincent Mesa, the island's former manger of the its power utilities, recalled later. "There were all kinds of political interference. They (government officials) didn't want to understand it. They said, 'Just do it! Give Enron the contract."
But, now with Enron in bankruptcy the power project has been left to rust in the Pacific sun and the islands are stuck with spotty electric power and lots of debt."
2000 - A comprehensive study of Marianas sweatshops and violation lawsuits by unions is released. A copy of study can be found at http://www.american.edu/....
On the sex slavery, the report says, "Sex club owners, whose business mostly caters to Japanese tourists, maintain tight control over their employees through intimidation, physical and verbal abuse, confiscation of their passports, and strict monitoring of their movement. Without their passports, these indentured women cannot leave the island, and their fear of money lenders' and/or traffickers' retribution on them and their families as well as their shame stop them from reporting their plight. Fear and intimidation are common tactics used among CNMI employers. For example, it is not unusual for them to threaten to deport and harm or kill foreign workers and their families if they voice factories' abuses to the media, CNMI and federal government agents, and other foreigners."
November, December 2000 - Abramoff and his wife each personally contribute $5,000 to 2000 recount fund. Greenberg Traurig runs up $314,000 bill for the RNC effort in Bush vs. Gore, which the RNC never repays, making it an undeclared contribution in-kind to the Bush election effort. Rep. John Sweeney leads GOP "Brooks Brothers Riot" in Miami Courthouse and succeeds in stopping third recount of Miami vote. President Bush nicknames Sweeney "Congressmen Kick-Ass."
January 4, 2001 - Jack Abramoff sends a a pitch letter to the Governor of CNMI, Pedro P. Tenorio, making the case why CNMI should rehire him as their lobbyist for the coming Bush era. "Our standing with the new administration promises to be solid as several friends of the CNMI (islands) will soon be taking high-ranking positions in the Administration, including within the Interior Department," There was some hesitation on CNMI to spend more money on a Washington Lobbyist now that their GOP allies controlled everything. Abramoff needed somebody to travel to CNMI to make his case, to seal the deal. Since Doolittle and Delay had already done their part earlier to pitch Abramoff, John Sweeney, "Congressman Kick-Ass", was chosen by Abramoff to be the salesman to the Marianas. Sweeney's campaign later received $3,000 in contributions from Greenberg Traurig itself.
January 8 , 2001 - Rep. John Sweeney arrives in the Marianas to urge business and the government to continue to lobby Washington, even though the GOP now rules the entire government. Despite the many confirmed reports of abuse, sex slavery and forced abortions, he defends the Marianas violations, rejecting the idea of federal enforcement. Sweeney addresses the Saipan Chamber of Commerce (Saipan Times Jan 15, 2001):
""While there have been criticisms about alleged poor working conditions of garment workers in the Northern Marianas, Mr. Sweeney said the situation in the U.S. mainland is far worse as he joined enforcement agents in banging down doors of sweatshop establishments in New York.
"I think, we as members of the U.S. Congress need to build some flexibility in our understanding of the situation." In recognizing the contribution of the garment manufacturers on the island's economy, Mr. Sweeney said Washington should be made to understand that the departure of the industry will devastate the Northern Marianas. Meanwhile, Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio said he agrees with Mr. Sweeney that CNMI must continue to lobby in Washington to protect the interests of the people of the Commonwealth.""
February - November 2001 - A new contract was signed with the Marianas and the Abramoff Gang at Greenberg Traurig goes to work blocking any efforts to end the system of abuse. Abramoff also effortlessly organizes to have his clients on CNMI showered with tens of millions of dollars from US taxpayers. Records show at least 195 contacts between Abramoff's Marianas lobbying team and the Bush administration from February through November 2001.
USA TODAY: "The documents show his team also had extensive access to Bush administration officials, meeting with Cheney policy advisers Ron Christie and Stephen Ruhlen, Ashcroft at the Justice Department, White House intergovernmental affairs chief Ruben Barrales, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles and others.
Most of the contacts were handled by Abramoff's subordinates, who then reported back to him on the meetings. Abramoff met several times personally with top Interior officials, whose Office of Insular Affairs oversees the Mariana Islands and other U.S. territories."
April 2-3, 2001 - Rove's Ralston and Abramoff arrange for Fitial to meet Bush in May. Abramoff makes sure illegal bribes sent out as contributions before each of Fitial's 2 visits.
April 6, 2001 - Just 3 days before meeting with Ben Fitial from CNMI, John Sweeney receives a $1,000 campaign contribution from Jack Abramoff's law firm, Greenberg Traurig. This money has never been returned.
April 9, 2001 - Speaker Ben Fitial of the Marianas House meets with Doolittle and Sweeney of the House Appropriations Committee. Mr. Fitial: "I am very glad that the CNMI has friends in such powerful positions. Whether the issue is construction funding or Compact impact assistance, the Appropriations Committee will make the important decisions, and I am confident we will receive a fair hearing because of our friends that serve on that committee."
April, 2001 - Patrick Pizzella, part of Abramoff's team on the Marianas, is appointed Deputy Undersecretary of Labor, ensuring no change on the Marianas' $3.05 minimum wage.
2001 - Rep. John Doolittle wants more appropriations for Fitial. Sweeney, being on Appropriations and Aviation, must have helped. Around $28 Million in grants and earmarks flowed to CNMI from Congress and the Bush Administration in 2001. That is in addition to the usual $40 some million paid each year to support the US Territory. One of the reasons that so much money flowed to CNMI in 2001 was that it was an election year on CNMI and Fitial was running for Governor. The GOP in Washington was trying to buy him the election with pork for the Marianas.
April 26, 2001 - Indicted Delay aide Tony C. Rudy meets with appropriations staff of Rep. Sweeney's office.
May 4, 2001 - Indicted Delay aide Tony C. Rudy meets with Rep. Sweeney to discuss Appropriations request.
May 9, 2001 - Ben Fitial meets with Bush at White House event.
May 25, 2001 - Jack Abramoff Teamate Kevin A. Ring has phone conversation and correspondence with K. Kaloi (House Resources) regarding CNMI appropriations; sends talking points to same; phone conversation with Labor Department official regarding minimum wage; correspondence with staff of Rep. Sweeney regarding appropriations. All in all, with the help of Sweeney and Doolittle, $28 million in additional "earmark" funds were secured by Abramoff for the Marianas in 2001.
June 20, 2001 - Indicted Delay aide Tony C. Rudy meets with Rep. Sweeney regarding Marianas issues; discussions with L. Lamora (Watts) regarding upcoming minimum wage effort.
October 29, 2002 - John Sweeney receives $1,000 from UNITE HERE, a hospitality workers union with members in the Marianas.
April 11, 2003 - John Sweeney begins paying a company called Creative Consulting for fund-raising. The company had been founded a day earlier by Gayle Ford. Between April 2003 and January 2004, Sweeney's campaign paid $42,570 to the firm. Sweeney proposed to Ford in September 2003 and married her in 2004, making her an official member of "The Wives' Club", the name prosecutors have given to the Abramoff Gang members whose wives skim campaign cash. (Source: Wikipedia)
June 17, 2003 - John Sweeney receives $5,000 from Wal-Mart PAC.
July 7, 2003 - The Marianas aid package - H.J. Res. 63 with Richard Pombo as one of several co-sponsors is introduced. It promptly sailed through 3 House committees (Resources, Judiciary, and International Relations) by September 15, 2003, and the full House on a voice vote shortly thereafter. The bill also breezed through the Senate, whereupon it was signed into law by President Bush on December 17, 2003.
This "Compact-Impact" payments law committed US taxpayers to pay $600 million: $30 million per year for the next 20 years, with the Marianas allocated $5 million per year from the total.
2003 - Unite Here union is one of three parties in a phony lawsuit against the Marianas sweatshops. A $20 million settlement to "reform" the Marianas working conditions is accepted but to date little money has gone to workers and the main change has just been a few words in the "Made in USA" label. UNITE HERE helped continue the converup of the Marianas scandal with this settlement.
MS MAGAZINE: "Although it wasn't part of the settlement agreement, the pressure generated by the lawsuits and legislative reform efforts led most of the companies that once labeled their garments "Made in USA" to change their labels to read "Made in Saipan (USA)" or "Made in Northern Mariana Islands (USA)."
The monitoring program, while an important effort, has had mixed results, according to a U.S. government source in the Marianas speaking on background. Inspections only take place twice a year and the results are kept confidential--even the retailers who pay for the program don't see them. The monitoring board has discretion to put factories on probation, but that has occurred only once. Moreover, the program will sunset in July 2007, and there are no other proposals on the table to replace it."
November 4, 2003 - John Sweeney receives $1,000 from UNITE HERE, a hospitality workers union with members in the Marianas.
March 1, 2004 - John Sweeney receives $5,000 from UNITE HERE, a hospitality workers union with members in the Marianas.
March 2, 2004 - Abramoff leaves Greenberg Traurig. In a statement, the firm says Abramoff "disclosed to the firm for the first time personal transactions and related conduct which are unacceptable to the firm."
August 24, 2004 - John Sweeney receives $1,000 from Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff's former law firm.
September 30, 2004 - John Sweeney receives $1,000 from UNITE HERE, a hospitality workers union with members in the Marianas.
October 20, 2004 - John Sweeney receives $1,000 from UNITE HERE, a hospitality workers union with members in the Marianas.
March 28, 2005 - John Sweeney receives $1,000 from Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff's former law firm.
June to October, 2005 - Between June and October of 2005, Justice Department staffers pull financial disclosure reports on at least nine members of Congress and at least seven former congressional staffers, including Rep. John Sweeney.
September 23, 2005 - John Sweeney receives $1,000 from Wal-Mart PAC.
September 29-30, 2005 - John Sweeney receives $700 from Ed Buckham, of the corrupt Alexander Strategy Group, now closed due to the Abramoff Scandals.
October 5, 2005 - John Sweeney receives $497 in-kind contribution from Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff's former law firm.
November 11, 2005 - John Sweeney receives $3,000 from UNITE HERE, a hospitality workers union with members in the Marianas.
March 24, 2006 - John Sweeney receives $1,000 from Wal-Mart PAC.
May 2, 2006 - John Sweeney receives $3,000 from UNITE HERE, a hospitality workers union with members in the Marianas.
June 2006 - Democrats propose H.R. 5550, the Human Dignity Act, to reform the Marianas. Despite the proof of forced labor, forced prostitution and forced abortion, John Sweeney and the Republicans refuse to support the Human Dignity
Plese remember to recommend and please! Help Gillibrand -- the report from the field is that the race is tighter than polls say.