He didn't know 

And apparently, neither does his spokeswoman

Last week, another allegation of dubious behavior by Ralph Reed surfaced. Reed, who used to head the Christian Coalition and is now running for Georgia lieutenant governor, has been accused by former employees of encouraging Alabama voters to block legislation that would prevent women from being forced into prostitution.

The allegation stems from an incident in 1999, when Reed's political consulting firm sent a mailer to conservative Christians. The mailer asked voters to urge their U.S. House representatives to squash a proposal that would make the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth, subject to federal wage and worker safety laws.

According to a May 29 Washington Post article, the mailer noted that Chinese workers on the islands "are exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ" and that many "are converted to the Christian faith and return to China with Bibles in hand." Yet a year earlier, a federal report concluded that Chinese women working on the islands were forced into the local sex trade to meet the demands of lascivious tourists.

Now, seven years later, Reed is avoiding the media and only will comment on the matter through his spokeswoman, who claims Reed knew nothing of the inhumane treatment of the workers.

The response to the mailers is just the latest je ne sais pas by Reed, who has a curious history of claiming ignorance on matters he would seem to have a vested interest in.

Most notoriously, Reed has denied having any knowledge that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff bilked his casino-owning clients of millions of dollars -- even though Reed was paid more than $4 million by Abramoff to try to prevent those clients' competitors from opening new casinos.

Here are some responses -- ranging from "unaware" to "no involvement" to "no knowledge" -- from Reed and his spokespeople regarding various incidents that have cropped up against him:

• "Ralph was unaware of any allegations regarding inhumane or illegal treatment of workers, and he would strongly object to such practices, if true."

-- Lisa Baron, Reed's spokeswoman, on the Northern Mariana Islands mailer (May 29, 2006, Washington Post)

• "I don't know."

-- Baron, on how much Reed paid for his golfing trip to Scotland with Abramoff and U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio (May 27, 2006, Associated Press)

• "I don't know, but I'll favor it."

-- Reed, on the feasibility of eliminating state income tax by 2011 (May 23, 2006, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

• "He had no involvement. He wasn't there."

-- Jared Thomas, a Reed spokesman, in response to allegations that Reed was familiar with Abramoff's dealings (Oct. 17, 2005, AJC)

• "How was I supposed to know, if his own law firm didn't know? He deceived his law firm, he deceived his clients and he deceived me."

-- Reed, after a March 2005 campaign fundraiser in Waycross, describing Abramoff (March 27, 2005, AJC)



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