Disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff reportedly used a Jewish nonprofit organization as a conduit for money in a scheme to try to influence a top aide of then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
The organization, Toward Tradition, headed by South African-born Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Lapin, received $50,000 from two Abramoff clients, which it used to hire Lisa Rudy, wife of DeLay’s then-deputy chief of staff, Tony Rudy, according to a report in the Seattle Times. The newspaper reported that Lisa was hired to run the fall 2000 Toward Tradition conference.
The clients said they did not know how their donation would be used.
Lapin told the newspaper that he and his board did not know the money was part of a plan to influence Congress. “We were innocently hiring someone to do a job and not being aware that it was part of something else,” Lapin said.
Abramoff once served as chairman of Toward Tradition, which urges Jews to return to “biblical religion” and to form alliances with evangelical Christians.
The Abramoff gambit came to light when the lobbyist pled guilty to fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion charges last week.