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

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Chicago Tribune | Abramoff case, spying loom over Gonzales

Ex-colleague's links to lobbyist scrutinized

By Andrew Zajac
Washington Bureau
Published February 2, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Nearing the first anniversary of his becoming attorney general, Alberto Gonzales finds himself answering questions about a former colleague and defending policies from his previous job as White House counsel.

In the latest challenge to Gonzales' White House record, two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday asked Gonzales what he knows about ties between convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Timothy Flanigan, a former White House lawyer, who withdrew his nomination to be deputy attorney general last October.

Gonzales also faces scrutiny over his role in justifying a White House policy to conduct domestic surveillance without search warrants. In addition, critics say Paul McNulty, selected as the new choice to be deputy attorney general, has been slow to consider allegations of abuse of detainees held in the war on terror.

Flanigan pulled out of consideration for the Justice Department's No. 2 position after questions arose about his business relationship with Abramoff and about his role, as Gonzales' White House assistant, in crafting Bush administration policies that seemed to justify use of torture for terrorism suspects.

After leaving the White House to become a senior executive at the Tyco manufacturing conglomerate in November 2002, Flanigan allegedly used inside information from Abramoff to stave off a pending loss of federal contracts, according to court papers filed last week in a case involving Jack Safavian, a former General Services Administration official and one-time Abramoff associate.

In a letter to Gonzales, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) asked how much the Justice Department knew about ties between Safavian, Abramoff and Tyco at the time of Flanigan's confirmation hearings.

According to Durbin, Flanigan withdrew his nomination after Durbin declined to meet privately with him to discuss his work with Tyco.

Abramoff recently pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges and is cooperating with federal investigators. Abramoff had ties to numerous prominent lawmakers and Durbin said a request would soon be made for a special prosecutor to take over the investigation.

Meanwhile, McNulty, the nominee for deputy attorney general, faces a confirmation hearing Thursday at which he is expected to face questions about how vigorously he has pursued allegations of mistreatment of detainees by the CIA and Defense Department.

Since mid-2004, McNulty, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, has overseen a team of prosecutors reviewing 19 allegations of prisoner abuse. Two have been dismissed for lack of evidence and 17 remain under investigation, according to the Justice Department.

The treatment of detainees has been a sensitive issue since the disclosure of efforts in 2002 by Gonzales, Flanigan and other administration lawyers to devise what critics say is a legal rationale to torture terrorism suspects.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said both the detainee abuse inquiries and the Abramoff investigation are insulated from politics because they are being handled by career prosecutors and not by political

Records sought on DeLay trip with Abramoff - Politics -

Texas prosecutor’s inquiry centers on 2000 journey to London, Scotland

The Associated Press
Updated: 8:07 p.m. ET Feb. 1, 2006

WASHINGTON - A European trip former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay took almost six years ago with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff is the new focus of a money-laundering investigation in Texas, according to court documents filed Wednesday in Austin, Texas.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle wants DeLay’s wife and several associates who joined him on the trip to turn over travel itineraries, expense reimbursement requests and other documents.

Earle is seeking the records on the late May-early June 2000 trip as part of his campaign funding investigation, which has led to money-laundering charges against DeLay.

DeLay, R-Texas, is awaiting trial on those charges but denies any wrongdoing in the case. He was forced by party rules to step down from his House leadership post after he was indicted. House members were scheduled to elect a replacement Thursday.

Questions on credit card
Questions have arisen about whether DeLay’s airfare to London and Scotland was charged to an Abramoff credit card and whether other expenses on the same trip were billed to a credit card used by Ed Buckham, a former DeLay aide who had become a lobbyist by that time and was on the trip.

Abramoff pleaded guilty last month to federal charges stemming from schemes to bribe public officials and defraud Indian tribes who were his lobbying clients. He has been cooperating with investigators, who have shifted their probe to members of Congress and some of their aides.

According to newspaper reports, much of the money for the junket — which included playing golf at an exclusive Scotland course — was paid for with money from two of Abramoff’s clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and e-Lottery Inc. They sent checks to a third group, the National Center for Public Policy Research.

DeLay has said he did not know Abramoff or his clients paid for the travel and asked the House ethics committee to look into the trips, but the committee has yet to meet amid political wrangling over its organization.

The Mississippi tribe also contributed to DeLay’s Texas political committee, which is at the center of Earle’s investigation.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Intoxination has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Intoxination endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)