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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
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    Panic in GOP over Abramoff ?

    Abramoff investigation has GOP holding its breath
    CIA leak probe may be getting more attention, but troubles surrounding former lobbyist worry Republicans more.
    Advertisement

    Dennis Cook/ASSOCIATED PRESS
    (enlarge photo)
    Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, right, with lawyer Abbe Lowe on Capitol Hill, is being investigated by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for his past lobbying activities on behalf of Indian casinos.

    By Scott Shepard

    WASHINGTON BUREAU

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    WASHINGTON — A grand jury investigating the White House leak of a CIA agent's name is expected to wrap up its work in the next couple of weeks, but it is another investigation — of former Republican superstar lobbyist Jack Abramoff — that has the Republican political establishment holding its breath.

    Abramoff is at the center of ever more complicated inquiries that touch on subjects as wide-ranging as allegations of influ- ence-peddling in Congress and the White House, a gangland-style slaying in Florida and political shenanigans in Guam.

    And while the CIA leak investigation by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, now in its second year, has yet to yield indictments, the investigations of Abramoff have resulted, so far, in bank fraud charges against him; obstruction charges against David Safavian, the Bush administration's former chief procurement official; and the withdrawal of President Bush's nomination of Timothy Flanigan, a onetime associate of Abramoff, to be the No. 2 official at the Justice Department.

    Abramoff has had close connections with leading Republicans, including Bush; U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay of Sugar Land, the former House majority leader; Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; party strategist Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform; and strategist Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition executive director and Bush campaign official who is now running for lieutenant governor of Georgia.


    Ethical 'linchpin'


    Karl Rove, Bush's longtime senior political strategist and the White House deputy chief of staff, testified before Fitzgerald's grand jury for a fourth time Friday.

    Rove "has some serious problems," said Naomi Seligman, spokeswoman for the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "But while most of Washington is focused on Mr. Rove, we know that the linchpin to the ethical downfall of the White House and some members of Congress is the Abramoff investigation."

    Charlie Cook, publisher of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report newsletter, agreed that the Abramoff investigation is "the one that they (Republicans) are really worried about" because it has the potential of tarring the party.

    "This is a real one," Cook said. "It has the potential to take the scandal issue to the next level."

    Republicans are clearly nervous. Two prominent GOP figures, Santorum and Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, have returned campaign donations that they received from Safavian.

    "We just felt, with so many unanswered questions, that was in the best interest," Santorum media consultant John Brabender said.

    A federal multiagency task force and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee are investigating Abramoff's past lobbying activities on behalf of Indian casinos, which reportedly netted him as much as $82 million in fees, and his golfing trips for members of Congress and other Republican luminaries.

    Congressional Democrats have called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether Abramoff played a role in the demotion of a federal prosecutor in Guam in 2002 after the prosecutor started investigating a lobbying deal between Abramoff and Guam court officials. Their actions were prompted by an article in the Los Angeles Times this month suggesting that Rove might have been involved in the demotion.

    Abramoff also is slated to stand trial in Florida in January on bank fraud charges in connection with his 2000 purchase, with partner Adam Kidan, of the SunCruz gambling ships from Greek financier Gus Boulis. They are accused of defrauding lenders in the $147 million purchase.

    In an unusual twist of events, Boulis was shot to death at the wheel of his BMW sedan shortly after leaving his office one evening in February 2001, about a month after he had filed suit against Abramoff and Kidan, accusing them of failing to pay him $23 million in connection with the SunCruz sale.

    Throughout the investigation, lawyers for Abramoff and Kidan repeatedly have said their clients know nothing about the circumstances of Boulis' death, and last month two men from Florida and a third from New York, none of whom have any known ties to Abramoff, were charged in the slaying.

    Abramoff's lawyer, Neal Sonnett of Miami, did not respond to requests for comment.


    Consequences


    Safavian's lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, said federal officials are pressuring her client, who once worked in a lobbying firm with Abramoff, to cooperate in their investigation of Abramoff. She accused the officials of "a creative use of the criminal code to secure his cooperation."

    Safavian became the first government official charged in the corruption inquiry related to Abramoff's activities in Washington when, in a complaint filed by the FBI in mid-September, he was accused of making repeated false statements to government officials and investigators about a congressional golf trip with Abramoff to Scotland in 2002 and of concealing his efforts to help Abramoff acquire federally managed property in Washing- ton.

    The 2002 golf trip has attracted a lot of attention because it included not only Abramoff and Safavian, then the chief of staff of the General Services Administration, but also Reed and Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee. It was similar to a 2000 trip that DeLay made to England and Scotland for which part of the expenses were charged to a credit card of Abramoff's.

    House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists, but DeLay and Ney have both said they thought the trips were financed through a conservative think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research, whose board of directors included Abramoff.

    Flanigan, a former deputy counsel for Bush, had his Justice Department nomination withdrawn this month, the day after the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to question him further about his ties to Abramoff. Before joining the Bush administration, Flanigan worked for Tyco International Ltd. as a lawyer, a position in which he oversaw Abramoff's lobbying efforts for the Bermuda-based company.

    From 2002 to 2004, Tyco paid Abramoff's firm $2.1 million to stop congressional efforts to deny federal contracts to companies that moved offshore to save on U.S. taxes.

    The Judiciary Committee's action was prompted by a written response from Flanigan in which the Bush nominee said that Abramoff, one of the elite "Pioneer" fundraisers for the Bush presidential campaign, had boasted of his contacts with Rove.

    The committee's chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said the questions raised about Flanigan's ties to Abramoff "merit answers."


    'Exploitation, deceit'


    Abramoff has largely avoided public events since he and onetime partner Michael Scanlon, a former DeLay aide, endured blistering attacks from members of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee investigating the fees that they received for lobbying on behalf of six casino-operating tribes.

    The committee released hundreds of e-mails that Abramoff and Scanlon exchanged during their representation of the tribes, some of which referred to their clients as "idiots" and "troglodytes" and celebrated the hefty fees that they received. "Is life great or what!" Abramoff wrote in one.

    While "every kind of charlatan and every type of crook" has exploited American Indians since the sale of Manhattan Island, said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the committee chairman, "what sets this tale apart, what makes it truly extraordinary, is the extent and degree of the apparent exploitation and deceit."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    14,663

    Re: Panic in GOP over Abramoff ?

    Quote Originally Posted by tommy4887
    Abramoff investigation has GOP holding its breath
    CIA leak probe may be getting more attention, but troubles surrounding former lobbyist worry Republicans more.
    Advertisement

    Dennis Cook/ASSOCIATED PRESS
    (enlarge photo)
    Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, right, with lawyer Abbe Lowe on Capitol Hill, is being investigated by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for his past lobbying activities on behalf of Indian casinos.

    By Scott Shepard

    WASHINGTON BUREAU

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    WASHINGTON — A grand jury investigating the White House leak of a CIA agent's name is expected to wrap up its work in the next couple of weeks, but it is another investigation — of former Republican superstar lobbyist Jack Abramoff — that has the Republican political establishment holding its breath.

    Abramoff is at the center of ever more complicated inquiries that touch on subjects as wide-ranging as allegations of influ- ence-peddling in Congress and the White House, a gangland-style slaying in Florida and political shenanigans in Guam.

    And while the CIA leak investigation by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, now in its second year, has yet to yield indictments, the investigations of Abramoff have resulted, so far, in bank fraud charges against him; obstruction charges against David Safavian, the Bush administration's former chief procurement official; and the withdrawal of President Bush's nomination of Timothy Flanigan, a onetime associate of Abramoff, to be the No. 2 official at the Justice Department.

    Abramoff has had close connections with leading Republicans, including Bush; U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay of Sugar Land, the former House majority leader; Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; party strategist Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform; and strategist Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition executive director and Bush campaign official who is now running for lieutenant governor of Georgia.


    Ethical 'linchpin'


    Karl Rove, Bush's longtime senior political strategist and the White House deputy chief of staff, testified before Fitzgerald's grand jury for a fourth time Friday.

    Rove "has some serious problems," said Naomi Seligman, spokeswoman for the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "But while most of Washington is focused on Mr. Rove, we know that the linchpin to the ethical downfall of the White House and some members of Congress is the Abramoff investigation."

    Charlie Cook, publisher of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report newsletter, agreed that the Abramoff investigation is "the one that they (Republicans) are really worried about" because it has the potential of tarring the party.

    "This is a real one," Cook said. "It has the potential to take the scandal issue to the next level."

    Republicans are clearly nervous. Two prominent GOP figures, Santorum and Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, have returned campaign donations that they received from Safavian.

    "We just felt, with so many unanswered questions, that was in the best interest," Santorum media consultant John Brabender said.

    A federal multiagency task force and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee are investigating Abramoff's past lobbying activities on behalf of Indian casinos, which reportedly netted him as much as $82 million in fees, and his golfing trips for members of Congress and other Republican luminaries.

    Congressional Democrats have called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether Abramoff played a role in the demotion of a federal prosecutor in Guam in 2002 after the prosecutor started investigating a lobbying deal between Abramoff and Guam court officials. Their actions were prompted by an article in the Los Angeles Times this month suggesting that Rove might have been involved in the demotion.

    Abramoff also is slated to stand trial in Florida in January on bank fraud charges in connection with his 2000 purchase, with partner Adam Kidan, of the SunCruz gambling ships from Greek financier Gus Boulis. They are accused of defrauding lenders in the $147 million purchase.

    In an unusual twist of events, Boulis was shot to death at the wheel of his BMW sedan shortly after leaving his office one evening in February 2001, about a month after he had filed suit against Abramoff and Kidan, accusing them of failing to pay him $23 million in connection with the SunCruz sale.

    Throughout the investigation, lawyers for Abramoff and Kidan repeatedly have said their clients know nothing about the circumstances of Boulis' death, and last month two men from Florida and a third from New York, none of whom have any known ties to Abramoff, were charged in the slaying.

    Abramoff's lawyer, Neal Sonnett of Miami, did not respond to requests for comment.


    Consequences


    Safavian's lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, said federal officials are pressuring her client, who once worked in a lobbying firm with Abramoff, to cooperate in their investigation of Abramoff. She accused the officials of "a creative use of the criminal code to secure his cooperation."

    Safavian became the first government official charged in the corruption inquiry related to Abramoff's activities in Washington when, in a complaint filed by the FBI in mid-September, he was accused of making repeated false statements to government officials and investigators about a congressional golf trip with Abramoff to Scotland in 2002 and of concealing his efforts to help Abramoff acquire federally managed property in Washing- ton.

    The 2002 golf trip has attracted a lot of attention because it included not only Abramoff and Safavian, then the chief of staff of the General Services Administration, but also Reed and Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee. It was similar to a 2000 trip that DeLay made to England and Scotland for which part of the expenses were charged to a credit card of Abramoff's.

    House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists, but DeLay and Ney have both said they thought the trips were financed through a conservative think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research, whose board of directors included Abramoff.

    Flanigan, a former deputy counsel for Bush, had his Justice Department nomination withdrawn this month, the day after the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to question him further about his ties to Abramoff. Before joining the Bush administration, Flanigan worked for Tyco International Ltd. as a lawyer, a position in which he oversaw Abramoff's lobbying efforts for the Bermuda-based company.

    From 2002 to 2004, Tyco paid Abramoff's firm $2.1 million to stop congressional efforts to deny federal contracts to companies that moved offshore to save on U.S. taxes.

    The Judiciary Committee's action was prompted by a written response from Flanigan in which the Bush nominee said that Abramoff, one of the elite "Pioneer" fundraisers for the Bush presidential campaign, had boasted of his contacts with Rove.

    The committee's chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said the questions raised about Flanigan's ties to Abramoff "merit answers."


    'Exploitation, deceit'


    Abramoff has largely avoided public events since he and onetime partner Michael Scanlon, a former DeLay aide, endured blistering attacks from members of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee investigating the fees that they received for lobbying on behalf of six casino-operating tribes.

    The committee released hundreds of e-mails that Abramoff and Scanlon exchanged during their representation of the tribes, some of which referred to their clients as "idiots" and "troglodytes" and celebrated the hefty fees that they received. "Is life great or what!" Abramoff wrote in one.

    While "every kind of charlatan and every type of crook" has exploited American Indians since the sale of Manhattan Island, said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the committee chairman, "what sets this tale apart, what makes it truly extraordinary, is the extent and degree of the apparent exploitation and deceit."

    Again, the brilliance of our Founding Fathers is displayed. Prosecutors from the judicial branch rush to the site of malignancies in the body politic like white blood cells attacking virulent tumors. Jefferson is smiling.

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