Washington, D.C. - A man who was once one of the top lobbyists in Washington, D.C. is now pleading guilty to a second set of charges brought by federal prosecutors.
They claim Jack Abramoff is linked to at least a dozen members of congress, reportedly paying them tens of millions of dollars, and Abramoff's dealings extend all the way to West Michigan.
DK Sprague of the Gun Lake Tribe says Abramoff helped stall the building of their new casino, "He was hired by a tribe in Michigan to delay our land in trust in '01." Sprague believes Abramoff was hired by the Saginaw Chippewa to help delay Gun Lake's land trust, "No explanation was given to us for the delay it was just we're over viewing it, we're looking it over."
The delay has postponed the building of the new casino in Wayland Township for more than 14 months. "I don't think he could care one way or another if we had our land in trust or not but obviously someone paid him to delay or stop us so that's what he did.", says Sprague.
Jack Abramoff worked for one of the country's largest lobbying firms, Greenberg & Traurig, one that provided campaign contributions to many candidates including Congressman Pete Hoekstra. WZZM spoke with Hoekstra's Press Secretary Dave Yonkman who says, “It was another employee of a firm that employed 1500 people nationwide. There is absolutely no connection between Pete Hoekstra and Jack Abramoff, the two have never met."
But the two do have a common cause, to stop the building of the Gun Lake Casino. "Congressman Hoekstra has been consistently opposed to the expansion of casino gambling since he's taken office." says Yonkman.
The land that the tribe is trying to put in trust has created quite the political controversy on both sides of the issue; one that they hope will soon be over. “We are hopeful and confident that we can have this whole lawsuit behind us in '06." says Sprague.
On Friday the Gun Lake Tribe and the United States Department of Justice will file petitions in federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the tribe which is also delaying the casino.
As for campaign contributions, WZZM also contacted Senator Carl Levin who denies reports he received any money from Jack Abramoff.
As for the Bush-Cheney administration they do admit to receiving contributions from Abramoff. The Republican National Committee says that money will now be donated to the American Red Cross.