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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bad Seed On Rove’s Stomping Grounds

Ah yes, I’ve been waiting for this all year. Finally, as the Abramoff-Scanlon-Norquist-Reed Casino Shakedown Scandal gains momentum, some are beginning to wonder if a close acquaintence of all these gents named Karl Rove might have had some idea what was going on. Last week my colleague The Moose cited a Texas Observer article by Rove-watcher Lou Dubose reminding readers of lots of little favors the Bush White House performed for Abramoff and Norquist and their clients (both men, of course, especially Norquist, were early and avid backers of W. for president in 2000). And everybody knows Ralph Reed has been a big-time Bush-Rove favorite who helped create the Christian-K Street coalition which saved W.’s bacon against John McCain in 2000, and who was allowed to test-drive the GOP’s state-of-the-art Get Out the Vote strategy as Republican Party chairman in Georgia in 2002.But I come at this issue from a slightly different perspective. When it first became apparent that the Texas scam of Reed taking Abramoff-generated Indian Casino money to run anti-gambling initiatives had been replicated in Alabama, I thought: Hmmmm. Texas and Alabama. Alabama and Texas. Don’t we know somebody famous who made these two states his personal political stomping grounds in the 1990s? Some guy named Rove?Rove’s dominance of Texas politics in the 1990s is a well-known story. But as Josh Green explained in his Atlantic profile of Rove last year, Alabama was nearly as large a preoccupation for the Boy Genius. As part of his patented effort to bond the business community and cultural conservatives (and their money) to the GOP through abrasive judicial campaigns, Rove was deeply involved in an effort to take over the Alabama Supreme Court from 1994 to 1998 (indeed, his one loss was to a judicial candidate named Roy Moore, a defeat which, according to Green, deepened Rove’s respect for the political power of the Christian Right).Now, none of this proves in the least that Rove had any involvement in the Casino Shakedown, even though it sure seems Rovian in its three-cushion-shot dynamics of raising special-interest money to succor conservative constituency groups and damage Democrats. But the idea that anything as big as this scam, involving several Rove/Bush intimates and three very visible statewide public campaigns, went down in those two particular states without ol’ Karl having a clue about it is as incredible as the idea that Ralph Reed got millions of casino dollars without suspecting the source of the money. Somewhere, the bloodhounds are gathering and getting the scent of dirty dollars. It will be interesting to follow their trail.

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