JUNE 10, 2008
The Bush Administration has long asserted that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff had no connection to the White House but a new report reveals that the jailed lobbyist did in fact have regular access to the Oval Office and that he influenced administration actions.
A House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report released this week confirms at least 80 White House contacts with Abramoff and says that the lobbyist wooed Bush Administration officials with expensive meals and highly-sought tickets to sporting events.
Abramoff pleaded guilty in 2006 to showering lawmakers and members of their staff with upscale European vacations, sports and entertainment tickets, expensive meals and other pricey gifts in exchange for special favors. The Republican lobbyist raked in millions of dollars by selling his Washington connections to wealthy Native American groups seeking to gain influence in the capital.
While 13 people—including lawmakers and congressional staff members—have been convicted in the scandal so far, the White House has vehemently denied any connection to Abramoff. However, documents and testimony featured in the report show that Abramoff had personal contact with President George W. Bush, that high-level White officials held Abramoff and his associates in high regard and that they solicited recommendations from Abramoff on policy matters.
The report documents Abramoff’s White House access with several photos—on various separate occasions—of him and his children with President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush over the years as well as White House visitor log information. It also lists how Abramoff influenced White House actions, including the forced removal of a State Department official (Alan Stayman) who had advocated positions opposed by a wealthy client of Abramoff’s.
The powerful and influential lobbyist was also consulted by the White House regarding candidates for political positions in the administration, according to investigators. This certainly indicates that the biggest lobbying scandal to rock Congress also tainted the Executive Branch, even though White House officials continue denying it.
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