Rabbi Daniel Lapin and his Mercer Island nonprofit Toward Tradition has been named by Senate investigators as among five groups that "perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
According to today's Washington Post:
The report includes previously unreleased e-mails between the now-disgraced lobbyist and officers of the nonprofit groups, showing that Abramoff routed money from his clients to the groups. In exchange the groups, among other things, produced ostensibly independent newspaper op-ed columns or press releases that favored the clients' positions.
Officers of the groups "were generally available to carry out Mr. Abramoff's requests for help with his clients in exchange for cash payments," said the report, issued by the Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee after a one-year investigation.
Lapin (KSFO Sundays,1-4p) is in good conservative company: Grover Norquist, the anti-tax guru who famously said government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub, is deeply implicated too.
The WaPo reports that Lapin, "whose group was at the center of some of
the most infamous lobbying schemes with Abramoff" told the committee
that he was shutting down the Seattle-based nonprofit because of
negative news coverage related to Abramoff."
But Lapin responded to an e-mail from the Seattle Times' David Postman, "I can assure you that Toward Tradition is alive and healthy with a brand new Web site only one week old and a vibrant program for 2007."
The "vibrance" is none too apparent- the Web site's calendar of events is as empty as the rabbi's ethical credibility.
We reported that Toward Tradition's funding, after the scandal erupted last year, had dropped to a dribble; Lapin had laid off the help, and moved its offices into Lapin's home. He rolled up his KTTH talk show and moved it to San Francisco's KSFO, where his name is not so well-known and connected to the scandal.
Syndicated conservative talker, Michael Medved, an old friend of Lapin's is on TT's board as was Jack Abramoff in better days.
Read our SF Bay Guardian piece about what brought us to this point.
Lapin told Postman, "Although unfounded allegations by Democratic members of some committees and others during the first part of 2006 certainly hurt Toward Tradition, the organization at the present time has no intention of ceasing its work and is engaged in its plans and activities for the remainder of this year and 2007."
This grubbiness may be drifting from the unethical into the criminal- Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont) the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee is calling on the FBI and IRS to investigate these charges that the Senate report plainly terms as a "fraud."
This has been coming down for a long time. Lapin has complained about persecution by partisans, and continues to make occasional guest appearances on local talk radio on shows such as Sytman and Boze (KTTH m-f, 5-9a).
How long KSFO can take the heat of having Lapin's dark cloud over their very conservative Sunday line-up. Stay tuned.
Read about the rabid rabbi's checkered past:
More embarrassment for rabbi daniel lapin
Seattle Times: rabbi daniel lapin abramoff connections
Rabbi Daniel Lapin: show rabbi of the racists
Rabbi Daniel Lapin: "The Man Who Stands By His Scandal-Ridden Friends"
Rabbi Daniel Lapin: More National Embarrassment
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a long look backward