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With Abramoff in Jail, Saipan Loses Its Fight

POSTED: 06:54 PM ET, 05/ 8/2008 by The Editors

One of disgraced former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff's biggest clients -- the tiny Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific just north of Guam -- has lost its 20-year fight to remain exempt from U.S. immigration and labor laws.

The islands played a small, if somewhat noticeable, role in a Post investigation into the lobbying activities of Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in 2006 and was sentenced to nearly six years in prison.

Today, President Bush signed into law the "Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008," which forces the Northern Mariana Islands to fall under U.S. immigration and labor laws, among other things.The law also gives the protectorate, which includes Saipan, a nonvoting delegate to the House.

Officials in the islands had long sought to retain exemptions from U.S. laws in order to import cheap Chinese laborers that could make garments labeled "Made in the U.S.A."

Human rights groups and labor unions complained that the commonwealth's lax rules -- which were negotiated as part of a 1986 covenant with the federal government -- resulted in exploitative working conditions.

The Post's investigation, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2006 among other prizes, found that Abramoff took on the islands as a client in 1995 and lobbied Republican lawmakers, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), heavily on its behalf.

Abramoff, who has helped prosecutors in a string of investigations into wrongdoing by lawmakers and aides, is in federal prison in Maryland serving time for the Florida fraud conviction. He is also awaiting sentencing on separate charges of mail fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion.

The former lobbyist's work with the North Marianas Islands and DeLay remains under investigation by the FBI and the Department of the Interior.

By The Editors |  May 8, 2008; 6:54 PM ET Abramoff Scandal
Previous: Ex-D.C Chief Finds Philly Has Challenges, Too | Next: McCain Supporters and Their Land Swaps

Comments

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This situation showed that Delay is fraud. He's no christian, a "christo-fascist," yes. This country made slaves of workers in general and prostituutes of women in particular. Delay did everything he could to prevent change from coming in the way of human and civil rights.

Posted by: Shag | May 8, 2008 9:56 PM

Now if we would abide by our constitution against invasion & enforce our immigration laws with Mexicans it would be great. But the Republicans love the cheap labor and the Democrats the Welfare votes so American citizens get the shaft!

Posted by: black sense | May 8, 2008 10:14 PM

This is very good news. The Marianis Islands loophole was tragic for the exploited workers of Marianis and bad for the wages and working conditions of the mainland USA workers who are forced to compete against them.

Posted by: Katie | May 9, 2008 3:48 AM

And Abramoff should rot in there. I wish we could put away a lot more like him.

Posted by: Katie | May 9, 2008 3:51 AM

Bush's Abramoff was a convenient Bush fall guy. Lawyers note that he was directly involved in the Republican party and conservative movement leadership structures and one of the leading fund raisers for the party and its congressional candidates. But other Bush "Pioneers" participated in far worse schemes with impunity. By scapegoating Abramoff who operated below the law, the Bushies and Bush "Pioneers" who operated above the law were able to create a smokescreen and continue their lawbreaking and assassinations.

Posted by: Singing Senator | May 9, 2008 4:28 AM

DeLay has been let off the hook for his own involvement. He, his family and aides were provided a paid-for excursion to the Marianas, in return for his making a speech before the Marianas Chamber of Commerce. Many members of the MCofC were the same people who operated slave shops exposed by ABC-TV and other media. In his speech, DeLay called them "good businessmen." He has never been called to task, at least not yet, for his ways of doing business and raising money.

Posted by: JT Chapin | May 9, 2008 11:39 AM

DeLay has been let off the hook for his own involvement. He, his family and aides were provided a paid-for excursion to the Marianas, in return for his making a speech before the Marianas Chamber of Commerce. Many members of the MCofC were the same people who operated slave shops exposed by ABC-TV and other media. In his speech, DeLay called them "good businessmen." He has never been called to task, at least not yet, for his ways of doing business and raising money.

Posted by: JT Chapin | May 9, 2008 11:39 AM

It is amazing to me that Tom Delay and the Bushies were able to promote policies that were so egregiously inhuman and immoral while posing as a "conservative" Christian and even misusing funds donated by churches who were duped in his "Red Door" scheme. It bothers me it has taken so long to bring him to trial. I hope that Jack Abramoff has been singing like a canary and will take Delay down with him. Perhaps then FOX and Friends can interview TD from his jail cell.

Posted by: Mike | May 9, 2008 1:56 PM

It is quite interesting that one of Tom Delay's strongest supporter in the Northern Mariana Islands is now running for the delegate position in Congress.

Pete A. Tenorio was working for a garment magnate during Abramoff's heyday and Pete walked around with a polo shirt that praised Tom Delay as godsend. He publicly praised the fact the Congress will not extend federal immigration and labor laws to the Northern Mariana Islands.

Posted by: Marianas Citizen | May 9, 2008 2:17 PM

If you haven't already, you just HAVE to watch Bill Moyers'

CAPITAL CRIMES at:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/moyersonamerica/capitol/index.html

And hold your breath until February, 2009.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 4:08 PM

http://www.bop.gov/iloc2/LocateInmate.jsp

Perform a name search TWICE for "Jack Abramoff"

To see:

1. Name: JACK A ABRAMOFF Register Number: 27593-112 Age: 49 Race: White Sex: M Projected Release Date: 12-11-2011 Location: CUMBERLAND FCI

Lawyer-lobbyist Jack Abramoff is still awaiting sentencing regarding his official corruption plea bargain of 3 January 2006. For some details on a huge component of the Abramoff Scandal, please see this author's "The Greedy Gates Immigration Gambit." http://www.thesocialcontract.com/pdf/eighteen-one/tsc_18_1_nelson.pdf

Posted by: Dr. Gene Nelson | May 10, 2008 2:21 AM

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