DeVos Had Personal Meetings with Abramoff

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    Ted Kahl
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LANSING–In light of Jack Abramoff’s sentencing to nearly six years in prison for fraud, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer today revealed that Abramoff has long been an ally to GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos. Business Week and the Associated Press reported in 1999 that Abramoff was “first to sign up” for a meeting with GOP House conservatives hosted by DeVos on the Amway yacht. Brewer demanded that DeVos abide by his own words on accountability and release the photographs of him and Abramoff at that event and from other meetings they had.

“The public needs to know Dick DeVos has had meetings with criminally corrupt GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. They probably swapped soft money corruption stories. DeVos’ personal relationship with Abramoff adds to the ethical baggage that DeVos brings to the race for governor- huge soft money contributions, hidden tax breaks for Amway and now dealings with a criminal like Abramoff,” said Brewer. “DeVos should release all the photos of him and Abramoff so that the public can judge their relationship for themselves."

Abramoff attended the meeting of GOP conservatives called the “Potomac River Cruise” hosted by Dick DeVos on the Amway yacht Enterprise in the summer of 1999. Abramoff was the first person to sign up for DeVos’ meeting. Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay, another leader along with DeVos and Abramoff of the GOP culture of corruption, also attended the meeting.

Through his Amway fortune, DeVos helped finance the  New Right network of think tanks, pressure groups and media outlets. Members of his family and the other Amway founders, the Van Andels, have sat on the boards of think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, and backed groups such as the Council for National Policy.

The Council for National Policy (CNP) is a secretive forum, which was first formed in 1981, for leading US conservative political leaders, financiers and religous right activist leaders to organize their respective agendas.

While those involved are from the United States, their organizations and influence cover the globe, both religiously and politically. Members include corporate executives, television evangelists, legislators, former military or high ranking government officers, leaders of 'think tanks' dedicated to molding society and those who many view as "Christian" leadership. Members in many cases are owners or leaders from industry such as lumber, oil, mining, commodities, real estate, the media, including owners of radio, television and print, with all aspects of life covered. Many are involved in education, determining to influence society's direction by direct input with children and youth.

In its 2002 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) return the CNP describes its activities and purpose as "Educational conferences for national leaders in the fields of business, government, religion and academia to explore national policy alternatives. Weekly newsletters are distributed to all members to keep them apprised of member activities and public policy issues. A semi-annual journal is produced from membership meeting speeches," it states .[1]

The CNP, which meets three times a year, gathered ahead of the 2004 Republican National Convention. "The real crux of this is that these are the genuine leaders of the Republican Party, but they certainly aren't going to be visible on television next week," the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Barry W. Lynn, told the New York Times.[2]

According to ABC News, "The CNP describes itself as a counterweight against liberal domination of the American agenda." [3]

More directly it has been described as "a highly secretive... a theocratic organization -- what they want is basically religious rule" (Mark Crispin Miller, A Patriot Act).