Republicans and Mammon

Hawley: Stirrings in the conservative underworld: The New York Times reported this week on the political fortunes of Ralph Reed, formerly of the Christian Coalition, who is running for Lieutenant Governor in Georgia. Pat Robertson has denounced his old protégé, saying Reed is serving Mammon. According to the story, Reed’s lobbying firm took money from Indian casinos, despite its stated moral opposition to gambling. Reed’s supporters say he got paid by a “broad based coalition” of anti-casino groups, and was unaware that some of these were rival casinos. Lurking in the background is Jack Abramoff, the well-connected Republican lobbyist who hired Reed’s firm to work on anti-gambling campaigns. Currently under investigation by the Justice Department and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Abramoff also surfaced in a story in last Saturday’s Washington Post. The Post reported that Abramoff may be linked to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and its growing allegiance to the repressive government of Malaysia. Lobbying firms connected to Heritage began representing Malaysian business interests around the same time that Heritage began to give the Malaysian government favorable ratings. As the fiscal improprieties of these prominent conservatives play out — especially avowed Christians like Reed — it will be interesting to note how major news outlets frame the issue. The Times puts Pat Robertson’s damning quote high up in the story, putting the attacks on conservative Christians in the mouths of other conservative Christians. The Post avoided the language of political perception in favor of a straight investigative story. It’s interesting whose values take center stage, those of a corruption-busting reporter or a political or religious insider.