FEBRUARY 26, 2006
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Secret Service for failing to release White House visitor logs that reflect the entries and exits of lobbyist Jack Abramoff to and from the White House. Judicial Watch originally filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Secret Service on January 20, 2006. The Secret Service had until February 21 to respond, but failed to do so.
"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.
According to press reports, when President Bush was first questioned about his relationship to Jack Abramoff, he distanced himself from the controversial lobbyist, saying, "I don’t know him." The president went on to suggest that the two might have met at holiday parties. The White House subsequently admitted, however, that Abramoff had attended White House staff meetings. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan responded to inquiring reporters that he would not elaborate on the dates and times of the meetings and would only describe them as "staff level meetings."
The records requested by Judicial Watch will undoubtedly show the frequency and length of these policy meetings thereby shedding some light on the nature of the relationship between Jack Abramoff and President Bush.
"The White House logs that are the subject of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit may show 30 visits by Jack Abramoff to the White House, or they may show 3 visits. We don’t know," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "The point is we need to get all of the facts on the table about this admitted felon’s contacts with White House officials."