Judicial Watch Compels Secret Service to Produce White House Logs Detailing Abramoff Visits
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that Judge John Garrett Penn of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ordered the United States Secret Service to produce White House logs detailing the visits of corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff to the White House. The logs are to be produced to Judicial Watch without redactions or claims of exemption by May 10, 2006.
As reported by the press, when first questioned about his relationship to Jack Abramoff, President Bush distanced himself from the controversial lobbyist, saying, "I don’t know him." However, the White House subsequently admitted that Abramoff had attended White House staff meetings, yet refused to elaborate on the dates and times of the meetings or identify the participants.
On January 20, 2006, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the United States Secret Service to get to the truth in the matter, seeking all White House visitor logs from January 1, 2001 reflecting the entry and exit of Abramoff from the White House: "The public deserves to know the level of contact that Mr. Abramoff had with the White House, which would be accomplished by full disclosure of the dates and times that Abramoff entered and exited the White House for…policy related meetings," Judicial Watch argued in its initial FOIA request.
While the Secret Service acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch’s FOIA request on February 2, 2006, they failed to produce the records. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on February 22. On April 25, 2006, Judge Penn executed a joint stipulation and agreed order directing the Secret Service to produce the requested records by May 10, 2006.
The records requested by Judicial Watch could show the frequency and length of Abramoff’s White House visits, thereby shedding some light on the nature of the relationship between Jack Abramoff and Bush administration officials. Once Judicial Watch obtains the White House logs detailing Abramoff’s visits, it will make the records available to the American public on the Internet as part of its public education mission.
"The American people deserve the truth concerning admitted felon Jack Abramoff’s visits and meetings with Bush administration officials in the White House," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "We don’t know what these records will show, but it’s time we get more of the facts on the table."