NPR.org, July 19, 2006 · The Jack Abramoff scandal has claimed another Republican: Ralph Reed.
The former head of the Christian Coalition, Reed, as chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, brought the state GOP from irrelevance to dominance – it now controls the governorship, both U.S. Senate seats, and a majority in the state legislature. Reed wanted a piece of the action for himself. His goal, which was once thought of as a slam dunk: the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Georgia.
And he seemed to have everything lined up. Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose views on abortion and gays are not even on the same page as Reed's, came in to campaign for him. Zell Miller, a conservative Democrat who may be the most popular pol in the state, worked tirelessly for him. But it wasn't enough.
Reed was soundly defeated in Tuesday's primary by a conservative state senator, Casey Cagle. Cagle focused on Reed's connection with Abramoff, the convicted lobbyist whose relationship with Reed goes back to when they were both with the College Young Republicans. As a longtime favorite of Christian conservatives, Reed's clean-cut image took a beating when it was revealed that he took millions of dollars from Abramoff to lobby against various gambling initiatives in the South. Reed's goal is one that was shared by many religious conservatives. But when it was revealed that the money came from Abramoff's gambling clients, Indian tribes that felt threatened by competition, Reed was thrown on the defensive and never recovered. Cagle won with 56 percent of the vote.
In my opinion, this wasn't about corruption. Ralph Reed's base has no problem with corruption. It was the gambling issue that did him in. Ralph Reed was also portrayed as supporting forced abortions. This was due to his lobbying work.
In August 1999, political organizer Ralph Reed's firm sent out a mailer to Alabama conservative Christians asking them to call then-Rep. Bob Riley (R-Ala.) and tell him to vote against legislation that would have made the U.S. commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands subject to federal wage and worker safety laws.
Now those seven-year-old words are coming back to haunt Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition and a candidate for the Republican nomination to be Georgia's lieutenant governor.
"The radical left, the Big Labor Union Bosses, and Bill Clinton want to pass a law preventing Chinese from coming to work on the Marianas Islands," the mailer from Reed's firm said. The Chinese workers, it added, "are exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ" while on the islands, and many "are converted to the Christian faith and return to China with Bibles in hand."
A year earlier, the Department of the Interior -- which oversees federal policy toward the U.S. territory -- presented a very different picture of life for Chinese workers on the islands. An Interior report found that Chinese women were subject to forced abortions and that women and children were subject to forced prostitution in the local sex-tourism industry.
Don't let the door hit ya on the way out, Ralph.