Sunday, May 07, 2006

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KENT ORAM AND FRIENDS

While there are many branches to the Las Vegas network of bribery and influence, it is clear from the publicly available data that Kent Oram is an eye of the storm and and provides a good point from which to start the story because everything else ripples outward. Other focal points revolve around Oscar Goodman, R & R Advertising (Billy Vasilliades and Sig Rogich) and finally "Mr. Cleanface" Harry Reid. To keep track of the whole ant farm of corruption, one needs a map of the players.

The accompanying chart clarifies the links in the G-Sting scandal, but more importantly it shows G-Sting is just a small part of a larger web of political corruption. The chart shows Oram is immediately connected to three of the indicted former Commissioners (he was campaign consultant to Erin Kenny, Michael McDonald and Lance Malone). It also shows a link to Mark James, who we'll see should have been indicted but as a lawyer is somewhat smarter and heard footsteps. But the web goes much beyond this and shows Oram's involvement in other political buyoffs done through the police department, police unions, a subsidiary public relations company called Paladin Advertising, through the Culinary Union, through Oscar Goodman, all the way to Harry Reid and other entities to influence elections and threaten opponents. The picture painted by this research is of a corrupt Las Vegas political culture centered around Oram, Rogich, Goodman, Vasilliades and Reid who have on their whim compromised politicians, the police, developers, unions, topless bars, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority and made Southern Nevada a shady shakedown enterprise.

ORAM HAS RUN MORE THAN 100 NEVADA CAMPAIGNS

Oram got his start in Las Vegas as a campaign manager for the notorious Sheriff Ralph Lamb, who was rumored to take undesirables out into the desert for beatings. Oram may also have been involved with Floyd Lamb (Ralph's brother), until Floyd got caught taking a bribe in the Yobo sting run by FBI agent Yablonski in 1983. Rather than being a fluke, it becomes apparent that Oram is a magnet for corrupt politicians. His longevity and ability to avoid responsibility for any side effects of his dirty dealing in part stems from is ability to link himself to the police department, either running or being tied to the campaigns of Ralph Lamb, John Moran, Jerry Keller and the current Sheriff Bill Young. Other ties to other power brokers like former Governor Miller (ran campaign), current Attorney General Brian Sandoval, and Kenny Guinn (helped campaign run by Billy Vasilliades) means Oram can almost always triangulate an escape route because he knows where the skeletons are buried.

In the early 1990's, Oram did political consulting for the American Nuclear Energy Council on Yucca Mountain. Oram got that contract because he had run Governor Miller's campaign in 1990 and it was thought Oram could juice the Yucca Mountain deal with Miller. Oram is big on competitive pistol shooting, in part because it allows him to keep close ties with the police department. Rumor has it at the Nevada Nuclear Waste Project Office that Oram's police connections were used to build a dossier on one Steve Frishman, an opposing technical consultant for NWPO. This pattern of using insider police information for political purpose is a long running thread in these events, and will becovered many more time in this expose. Police ties also likely explains the connections to former policemen/commissioners Lance Malone and Michael MacDonald, as well as events like the release of Janet Moncrief's DUI record.

As part of the Yucca Mountain opposition research, a media response team headed by another longtime political consultant, Don Williams, was put in place to deal with local reporters as friendly peers. Williams,was hired because he had been a campaign consultant for Rep, Jim Bilbray D-Nev. and for Harry Reid's ill fated 1974 campaign against Bob Laxalt, and was expected to convince Reid of the nuclear industry's position. Don William's history included working for Circus Circus, the Culinary Union, and by his own stories he dealt with various mob elements. He has told colleagues in the past that Steve Wynn had a hit put out against him regarding Williams' position on a monorail that would have affected Wynn's gaming properties, and has described Wynn as a product of the Buffalo mob. But William's connections to Reid are most important here because they are one more little thread linking the Senator to the greater G-Sting situation (i.e., Reid is no naive waif in Nevada politics, he knows as well as anyone where the political bones are buried).

Don Williams in turn hired KLAS Channel 8 news anchors George Knapp and Brian Gresh with ANEC money to act as spokespersons.

At a May 1992 nuclear utility conference in Washington, Knapp acknowledged that part of his job was to compile "dossiers" on key Yucca Mountain opponents, so Knapp knows about Oram's underhanded use of police contacts. While Knapp was nominally hired by Don Williams, Williams reported to Oram who ran the Yucca Mountain campaign, so Knapp is no innocent in regards to the dirty inside of political consulting. Knapp continued his ties with Oram, contributing to county commissioner Don Schlesinger's defeat in 1994 to none other than Erin Kenny (the most easily bribed of those in the G-Sting scandal). Oram was the political consultant for Erin Kenny, but he made use of Knapp (who was allowed to work at the KLAS station while still on the nuclear industry and Oram's payroll) who aired inflammatory stories about Schlesinger.

George Knapp - shock shock - is also the reporter who scooped the G-Sting scandal, and Knapp likely tipped off Oram to events now unfolding. In a November article in the Mercury, Knapp revealed that he had two friends separately tell him about the G-Sting investigation 15 months before the story broke. It is likely one of those friends was Kent Oram, however the question is whether these conversations provided unidirectional information to Knapp, or were preemptive damage control. In other words, was Oram exchanging information with Knapp to keep himself out of the headlights of the G-Sting scandal? If so, then a coverup to protect Oram would involve not only Knapp in the media, but FBI and police sources compromised to get “the story”, making this coverup far more dangerous than the petty grifting of Malone, Kenny, McDonald, et. al. Oram had a son-in-law who worked for the FBI, as well as numerous connections in the police Department, much less running sheriff Young's campaign, so the systemic rot likely extends quite far.

Consequently, no matter what the order of events, Oram was likely told by insider Knapp and/or insider police that a sting was under way. This is important because as evidenced by the flow chart, Oram was at the center of the storm since he acted as political consultant to Kenny, Malone, MacDonald, Goodman, Sheriff Young and others all the way up to Gov. Guinn. So is Oram a guiltless innocent being tarred for random associations? His other activities suggests he knew very well of the activities of Malone, Kenny and McDonald, and even Herrera and Kincaid Chauncey.

Oram should be in a heap of trouble right now. Either he ratted out just about every client he consulted over the last ten years, or he is hiding a lot of evidence (only possible if he is getting a pass from friends in the police and FBI). As much as Oram knows, a lot of people must be very worried what the answer to this question will be.

It's useful to follow the path of unindicted politician Mark James (who suspiciously quit his county commission job for “family reasons” just as the G-Sting scandal broke). Oram was James' campaign manager for the Commission seat, making this an instructive lesson in how the smart ones in the inner circle are protected.