News and articles relating to the scandal surrounding Washington D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Capitol Hill: On DeLay's Trail—The E-Mail Factor - Newsweek Periscope -

April 10, 2006 issue - Federal prosecutors investigating the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal have obtained a road map to the workings of the Republican-controlled House: 1,000 internal e-mails from the office of Rep. Tom DeLay during his time as majority leader. The e-mails were turned over quietly by DeLay late last year as part of an unpublicized effort by the embattled Texas congressman to show he would cooperate with prosecutors. "We didn't hold anything back," says Richard Cullen, DeLay's lawyer, who tells NEWSWEEK the e-mails date to at least 1998 and involve all aspects of the probe. He says the e-mails weren't subpoenaed but were offered as a "Christmas present." Still, it's unclear if thee-mails will clear or help implicate DeLay.

Last week federal prosecutors had one of their biggest coups yet in the probe: a felony guilty plea by Tony Rudy, DeLay's former deputy chief of staff, for conspiring with Abramoff to provide House members and their staff with perks in exchange for legislative favors; Rudy, who left DeLay's office in December 2000 to work for Abramoff, will now cooperate with the Feds. Although court papers filed by prosecutors with the plea contain no direct allegations against DeLay, the documents for the first time refer to an unnamed "Representative No. 2" (who is DeLay) whose office repeatedly assisted Abramoff and his clients. The papers allege that Rudy, while still working for DeLay, arranged for the congressman to sign a letter opposing a postal-rate increase to aid an Abramoff client and helped kill an antigambling bill opposed by another Abramoff client. At the same time, Abramoff arranged for $86,000 in consulting payments to be made to Rudy's wife, Lisa, according to the documents. (She was not charged.) Cullen says DeLay had no knowledge of improper dealings by his aides. (He also says the e-mails he gave the Feds don't include any directly from DeLay because the congressman, unlike his aides, doesn't e-mail.) DeLay "has never taken any official action based on anything other than his conscience," he says.

Still, the Rudy documents suggest prosecutors are far from finished. They name a "Lobbyist B" (DeLay's former chief of staff Ed Buckham) who shared clients with Abramoff and allegedly worked closely with him to arrange the consulting payments to Rudy's wife. (Buckham's lawyer didn't respond to a request for comment.) The documents also may further implicate Ohio Rep. Bob Ney, who, the court papers allege, agreed to support legislation benefiting Abramoff clients in the Marianas Islands and an Indian casino tribe in Texas. Ney then went on an all-expenses-paid golf trip to Scotland funded by Abramoff's clients. Rudy, by then working for Abramoff, e-mailed Ney's chief of staff that the trip would involve "drinking and smoking Cubans," the papers state. Ney's lawyer, Mark Tuohey, says his client denies all wrongdoing and has no intention of cutting a deal with prosecutors. "He will be fully vindicated."


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