Matt Towery

 If accounts are true, Abramoff and his team would be asking the Tiguas -- whose casino was to be left with no customers -- to shell out millions of dollars in consulting and lobbying fees, plus campaign contributions.

 Did the Tiguas have this kind of money? Come to think of it, where did a poor Indian tribe get the resources to construct and manage what was billed as a "bingo hall" in some documents, but has been described as a fairly lavish casino by some who have been there?

 Reportedly, officials have been made aware of a potential string of connections that not only could have led to the Tiguas' decision to meet with and hire their arch-nemesis, Abramoff, but also to offer money for trips and other activities that were designed to see their casino reopened.

 Other questions are emerging. Might any parties in the big-time world of gaming have had a cozier-than-reported relationship with the Tiguas and the Speaking Rock Casino when it was open and thriving?

 All this may well open a completely different side to the already potentially dangerous Abramoff scandal. But if it does, it may be a dark side that most or all of the publicized names of those have been caught in the net of this controversy were completely unaware of.

 Sources say these politicians, aides and operatives would have had to follow a highly technical labyrinth of corporate names and organizations in order to know about any ties between Abramoff, or his clients, to any potential "deep-pocket" players in the "Casinogate" matter.

 But these same sources say that routine filings made with federal and state agencies during the 1990s were accessible to relevant regulators and officials. Presumably, these records could have shown them that something might be out of kilter when it came to Speaking Rock and its activities.

 The sources also say that those looking into the matter are starting to "follow the money." Not just in the direction of the political and government officials who might have benefited from the situation, but also toward those entities that may have allegedly helped back the shenanigans all along.

 While much of the attention in this controversy over lobbying and ethics in Washington has centered on names like Tom Delay, Bob Ney and even former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed -- who is unelected but politically ambitious -- sources tell us that the actions and events leading up to the whole convoluted affair are only beginning to receive the attention that maybe they should have gotten years ago.

 It is likely that the names of friends and relatives of at least some additional, powerful leaders in Washington will come to light as this puzzle is starting to be put together. These might be the names of people whose fingerprints can be found on the Tiguas' now-defunct casino, and on the efforts to change the laws that would allow Speaking Rock to again open its doors. 

 The impact that all of this will have on the unsuspecting elected officials, some of whom may have done wrong but none of whom likely knew of any deeper or darker aspects of the circumstances, remains to be seen.

 Regardless, it appears that the press and public have so far observed just a portion of this explosive story. Whether its other aspects ever see the light of day will depend on whether the right parties follow the money, and how far they are willing to follow where it leads.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
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