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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

TX-22: Tom DeLay Corruption: Mariana Islands Scandal

Posted by Bob Brigham

New York Times:

WASHINGTON, May 3 - Newly disclosed documents from an American territory in the Pacific show that the powerful Washington lobbyist at the center of federal corruption investigations here paid directly for travel to the islands by several members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, as well as two senior aides to Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, despite House rules that bar such payments.

The lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, submitted bills to his law firm for more than $350,000 in expenses for several trips to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in 1996 and 1997 on behalf of the congressmen, as well as several others including Edwin Buckham, Mr. DeLay's former chief of staff, and Tony Rudy, his former deputy chief of staff. [...]

In letters and e-mail messages to the Marianas, Mr. Abramoff acknowledged that he had paid for the trips and asked the island government, which had hired him to lobby against proposed labor measures that would have affected the islands, to send him checks.

House travel rules bar lobbyists from paying for Congressional travel, even if the lobbyist is reimbursed by a group or government agency that is allowed to pay for travel. [...]

In a statement, the firm, Preston Gates & Ellis, said: "If Jack Abramoff charged Congressional travel to his personal credit card for subsequent reimbursement - even from an entity that could have paid for the travel to begin with - that would have been contrary to firm policy that firm lobbyists were responsible for seeing that any Congressional travel in connection with a representation should be in accordance with Congressional ethics rules."

The firm said that Mr. Abramoff had been advised of the rules when he started working there but that any violations were not caught at the time because his records were not reviewed.

Abramoff knew the rules and he broke the rules. More from the Washington Post.

Posted at 12:37 AM in 2006 Elections - House, Texas | Technorati