Rabbi Daniel Lapin is a naturalized US citizen born in South Africa. An Orthodox rabbi, Lapin is most well known for founding Toward Tradition, an organization that claims to promote Judeo-Christian values.
Kevin Ring Indictment
In the post entitled Part V -- Kevin Ring Indictment: DAVID LOPEZ, we examined paragraph 84 of the Kevin Ring Indictment (.pdf):
84. On or about September 20, 2000, defendant RING sent an email to Abramoff in which defendant RING wrote that Representative 5's [John Doolittle's] Chief of Staff reported that Representative 5 [John Doolittle] was excited and appreciative of a possible employment opportunity for his wife and wanted to speak with Abramoff about the job.
When we reviewed the actual September 20, 2000 e-mail written from Ring to Abramoff and mentioned in the indictment, we learned some specifics of the employment opportunity. It turns out that Kevin Ring was hopeful that Daniel Lapin's Toward Tradition would hire Julie Doolittle:
David [Lopez] told me that Doolittle (JTD) is very excited and appreciative about the Toward Tradition position for Jule. JTD knows of the group and would like to talk to you about it. Can you call him whenever you get a free moment - does not need to be today.
It is certainly clear that Kevin Ring took steps to facilitate a potential job for Julie Doolittle at Toward Tradition. While it isn't unreasonable to think that Daniel Lapin entertained discussions about the job for Julie Doolittle mentioned in the indictment, we don't have any evidence what, if anything, Daniel Lapin did to further Julie Doolittle's employment prospects.
The ACR Blog has no evidence that Julie Doolittle ever worked for Toward Tradition. However, we do know that Toward Tradition did hire an aide to our former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Ft. Bend County):
The government's interest in Toward Tradition has apparently focused on the payments to Lisa Rudy....
Lisa Rudy is the wife of Tony Rudy, at the time a senior aide to DeLay, who was then majority whip in Congress. Tony Rudy later went to work as a lobbyist for Abramoff, according to The Washington Post.
Lisa Rudy couldn't be reach for comment.
At the time he approached Lapin about hiring Lisa Rudy, Abramoff was working in the D.C. office of Seattle's Preston Gates.
Toward Tradition's board approved hiring Lisa Rudy in 2000 and soon after Abramoff sent a $25,000 check from a firm called eLottery. It came with instructions that Rudy was to be paid $5,000 a month.
eLottery is a Connecticut company that provides states with online lotteries. The company hired Abramoff to help stop the federal Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.
Lapin said other checks came from another Abramoff client, the Magazine Publishers of America. Those checks, too, came with directions to keep paying Rudy.
Abramoff was lobbying for the association and, according to his plea agreement, was trying to stop a bill that would have raised postal rates.
A total of $50,000 was paid to Rudy. Abramoff's plea agreement says the money was obtained from clients that benefited from the aide's "official actions regarding the legislation on Internet gambling or opposing postal rate increases."
According to the Seattle Times, the FBI interviewed employees of Toward Tradition and acquired documents from the organization in 2005.
Possible Violation of Non-Profit Status
Back in January 2007, we reviewed a report issued by the Senate Finance Committee that suggested that Daniel Lapin's Toward Tradition was among a number of non-profits that had allowed Jack Abramoff to "launder payments" through them:
Washington Post; October 13, 2006
Five conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, "appear to have perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Senate investigators said in a report issued yesterday....
The groups named in the report are Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform; the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, which was co-founded by Norquist and Gale Norton before she became secretary of the interior; Citizens Against Government Waste; the National Center for Public Policy Research ... and Toward Tradition, a Seattle-based religious group founded by Rabbi Daniel Lapin.
New York Times
In a 2002 interview with The New York Times, Mr. Abramoff said he first met Mr. DeLay through Daniel Lapin, who would meet frequently with members of Congress to press conservative causes.
In 2000, Jack Abramoff wanted to join some DC-based organization called the Cosmos Club. Abramoff didn't think he'd qualify for the Cosmos Club because he hadn't won enough awards. Not a problem for a guy of Abramoff's ingenuity. He just called upon his friend Daniel Lapin. As reported by NPR:
Now, in late 2000, came Abramoff's moment to cross over, to make the transition from being just another muscular political operative to something more fixed in the capital's firmament: a Cosmos Club member. Hence the e-mail to his friend, Rabbi Daniel Lapin; it's among documents released as part of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee's investigation of Abramoff.
"I hate to ask your help with something so silly, but I have been nominated for membership in the Cosmos Club," Abramoff wrote. He noted that the club has "Nobel Prize winners, etc. Problem for me is that most prospective members have received awards and I have received none."
Although he introduced Abramoff to DeLay, Lapin could not be considered Washington establishment. He lives in Washington state. Like Abramoff, the rabbi is Orthodox Jewish, and he runs a socially conservative Jewish advocacy group called Toward Tradition.
Abramoff's e-mail continued: "I was wondering if you thought it possible that I could put that I have received an award from Toward Tradition with a sufficiently academic title, perhaps something like Scholar of Talmudic Studies? …Indeed, it would be even better if it were possible that I received these in years past, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I think you see what I am trying to finagle here!"
Lapin saw. "Mazel tov," he e-mailed back, "the Cosmos Club is a big deal."
Their e-mails continued sporadically for a few days. They apparently talked by phone. Finally Lapin e-mailed, "I just need to know what needs to be produced….letters? plaques? Neither?"
Abramoff wrote: "Probably just a few clever titles of awards, dates and that's it. As long as you are the person to verify them [or we can have someone else verify one and you the other], we should be set. Do you have any creative titles, or should I dip into my bag of tricks?"
Abramoff and his attorney declined to comment for this story. But now we can see what might have been in Abramoff's bag of tricks. Even though Abramoff left his last law firm, Greenberg Traurig LLP, early in 2004, his biography still exists on an archived version of the firm's Web site. It lists these six honors:
• Scholar of Biblical and American History, 1994, from Lapin's organization Toward Tradition. Lapin says, "We never issued any such award."
• Biblical Mercantile Award, 1999, from the Cascadia Business Institute, another creation of Rabbi Lapin. Lapin says the institute was a concept that never really came to fruition, "and it certainly never gave any award." In fact, Lapin says Abramoff used the names of the two organizations without his knowledge. But weren't Abramoff and Lapin good friends? "We certainly were," Lapin says.
• Outstanding Public Affairs Professional, 1998, and Winston Churchill Award, 1997, both from the National Center for Public Policy Research. Abramoff was on the center's board at the time. He was also an old friend of center director Amy Ridenour, and he funneled money through the center for, among other things, DeLay's Scotland trip. Aside from Abramoff's biography, there's no evidence the center ever gave either award to Abramoff or anyone else. Ridenour didn't respond to NPR's request to comment; she did tell the Indian Affairs Committee that she thought Abramoff defrauded the center in his financial dealings, and she's no longer speaking to him.
• National Order of Merit, 1983, from the USA Foundation. The Greenberg Traurig biography notes that Abramoff was the foundation's chairman at the time.
• Distinguished Biblical Scholar Award, 1988, from the Keter Torah Institute. NPR could find no evidence that the institute exists.
 The ACR Blog began researching for this post on Tuesday, April 28, 2009. On that date, the ACR Blog viewed and saved Jack Abramoff's Greenberg bio on Web Archive which was cited in the above NPR article. As we went back this evening to post a link to the bio, we noticed it had suspiciously disappeared. Abramoff's Greenberg bio appeared here. The ACR Blog has saved Abramoff's Greenberg bio in html format and will attempt to provide it to anyone who requests it.
Here is the Awards section of Abramoff's bio:
Awards and Recognition
* "Star Rainmakers: The Hill's list of top lobbyists," listed in The Hill Magazine, 2002; 2003
* "Who’s Who and Who’s Where on K Street," listed in The Hill Magazine, 2001
* Biblical Mercantile Award from Cascadia Business Institute, 1999
* Outstanding Public Affairs Professional from National Center for Public Policy Research, 1998
* Winston Churchill Award from National Center for Public Policy Research, 1997
* Scholar of Biblical and American History from Toward Tradition, 1994
* Distinguished Biblical Scholar Award, Keter Torah Institute, 1988
* National Order of Merit, USA Foundation, 1983
Also, be sure to check out a parody of Jack Abramoff's "Who's Who in America" entry created by the conservative Weekly Standard magazine. It is clearly inspired by Daniel Lapin's apparent phony awards to Jack Abramoff.