Morning Report 1/26/06
Top Gambling Lobbyist's Daughter Probes Corruption at World Bank
What are the odds? Paul Wolfowitz has tapped America's top gambling lobbyist's daughter — she was once a spear carrier for Wampumgate casino scandal figure Grover Norquist — to help 'probe' corruption at the World Bank.
Allison Brigati is now the bank's "senior counselor for U.S. Affairs," serving right under Suzanne Rich Folsom, one of Wolfie's top advisers — and herself the wife of former International Republican Institute chairman George Folsom.
You wouldn't know from the World Bank's own propaganda arm that Brigati is the daughter of Frank Fahrenkopf, the former GOP national chairman who is now president and CEO of the American Gaming Association and co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which undemocratically squeezes rules to protect the two major parties from third-party challenges. The World Bank presents her as simply "Allison Brigati." That's not the way she presents herself to the rest of the world. So much for transparency for this supposed corruption-fighter.
And thus you wouldn't realize that her sister, Leslie A. Fahrenkopf, is a gag writer at the White House as Associate Counsel to the President, having honed her skills under Spygate apologist Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Miers.
But insiders at the World Bank, outraged at the GOP cabal Wolfie is setting up at the planet's most powerful development bank, alerted me to the fact that Allison Brigati is Fahrenkopf's daughter and that she was Folsom's first political appointee upon taking over the bank's Institutional Integrity department.
Sources, whose confidentiality I will protect to the death (unless George W. Bush blows us up first and I have time before the fallout hits us for one more item in which to thank my sources), tell me that Folsom, who is right next to Wolfie on the bank's new organizational chart, has long been close to Fahrenkopf and his family.
Brigati's just another brick in the wall. As I've previously noted, Wolfie's other top people include Robin Cleveland, who was a figure in a major Boeing scandal when she worked at the White House's Office of Management and Budget, and Kevin Kellems, former flack to Vise President Dick Cheney.
And now the watchdog Bank Information Center reports that Wolfie as brought on board his buddy Karl Jackson (a former NSA official in Bush the Elder's regime) as an adviser.
Enough about those dumbkopfs and back to Fahrenkopf: In the world at large, of course, Brigati calls herself Allison Fahrenkopf Brigati, as she announces her identity on the website of the hoity-toity National Cathedral School when planning a parents' dinner.
But this is scandalous in more than name only. She was calling herself Allison Fahrenkopf Brigati back in 1995, when, as the Republican National Committee associate counsel, she threatened a lawsuit against New York artists Marshall Reese and Nora Ligorano if they continued to put the trademarked — yes, trademarked — logo of the GOP's "Contract With America" (plus Newt Gingrich's face) on satirical underwear. They were exercising their right of free speech, but that didn't stop Fahrenkopf's daughter.
She's the perfect person to work directly under Suzanne Rich Folsom, who has been appointed by him to "fight fraud and corruption" in the bank's operations abroad and handle "allegations of staff misconduct."
Never mind that Folsom is focused mostly on prying into staffers' e-mails to see who's squealing to outsiders. And as I've noted, the staff are extremely restive as Wolfie keeps adding partisans to the payroll.
But keep in mind that, as the Financial Times recently noted, Folsom was hired by the bank by Wolfie's predecessor, Jim Wolfensohn, "with the task of improving the bank's relations with Congressional Republicans."
No doubt that was a shrewd move. In the mid-1990s, the start of the salad days of the congressional GOP, Grover Norquist was an "intellectual architect" of the Gingrich "revolution" in the House and a "muse" for Gingrich himself, who was about to become House Speaker. The Washington Post recently dredged up that history on Norquist because he's now, as I've noted, a major figure in the Wampumgate scandal, captured in e-mails greedily asking for more loot from crook Jack Abramoff, his long-time pal.
Meanwhile, Wolfowitz, chief architect of the Iraq debacle, is promising to fight corruption. To that end, the bank conducted a workshop earlier this month titled "Where Lies Corruption?: Tracking the Elusive Beast." Check out the agenda of that January 12-13 session. Leading the discussion of "Corruption Prone Processes in the Public Sector" was Allison Fahrenkopf Brigati. Good choice.
But who says corruption is an "elusive beast"? It's the elephant in our living room, as I've pointed out before.
And that elephant has been stinking up the place for a long time. Let's go back to the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas. Oh, it was a glorious time. Ronald Reagan was about to get renominated for a cinch second term. (For more history on those early days of the GOP's Radical Right, see my May 2000 story "Left Behind.")
Young Republicans were streaming onto Capitol Hill and into newly formed think tanks, like the Heritage Foundation, which was set up mostly on beer money from the Coors family. Typical that the GOP's self-righteous wing has relied so heavily on money from alcohol and casinos.
On August 20, 1984, a Monday, the convention formally began, called to order at 10 a.m. by Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf. A few speeches followed, including one by Fahrenkopf himself. The very next speaker was a representative of the new generation of Republicans, the chairman of the College Republican National Committee: Jack Abramoff.