Thursday, September 30, 2004

Senate Opens Hearings on Lobbyists for Tribes

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 - A Senate committee on Wednesday began untangling the financial relationship between six Indian tribes and two Washington insiders who Congressional investigators say charged the tribes more than $66 million in less than four years for minimal work.

The two - Jack Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist, and Michael S. Scanlon, a public relations specialist and former aide to Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader - sold themselves to the tribes as influential Washington operatives whose experience and relationships would reap great rewards for Native Americans.

But as details of their work became public through reports in The Washington Post and other newspapers, the government began asking questions. Now, the men are under investigation by the Justice Department, other federal agencies and Congress, all examining the possibility of criminal violations.