The White House as Free Range for Felons

This should be getting more play than it is. Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist have not been convicted of any crimes arrising from their relationship with Jack Abramoff (yet). But Neil Volz, Tony Rudy, and Michael Scanlon have and they were givenwide access to the White House along with Reed and Norquist.

Republican activists Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed landed more than 100 meetings inside the Bush White House, according to documents released Wednesday that provide the first official accounting of the access and influence the two presidential allies have enjoyed.

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White House officials said Norquist, who runs the nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform, was cleared for 97 visits to the White House complex between 2001 and 2006, including a half-dozen with the president.

Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition and an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia earlier this year, got 18 meetings, including two events with Bush.

[snip]

Both Reed and Norquist became involved with Abramoff, the once high-power GOP lobbyist who has pleaded guilty to fraud and is now cooperating with prosecutors in an influence peddling investigation that has rocked Capitol Hill.

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E-mails obtained this summer by AP show Norquist facilitated several administration contacts for Abramoff’s clients while the lobbyist simultaneously solicited those clients for large donations to Norquist’s group. Americans for Tax Reform acknowledged Norquist helped Abramoff but said he did nothing improper.

[snip]

Documents unearthed by congressional investigators showed Abramoff and business partner Michael Scanlon routed about $4 million from Indian tribes to Reed-controlled entities for grassroots work aimed at blocking rival casinos.

The White House also released records showing White House appointments landed by some of Abramoff’s former lobbying associates. Among them:

*Neil Volz, a former aide to Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney (news, bio, voting record), had 18 appointments, including one to attend a large event featuring Bush on Sept. 11, 2001, that was canceled because of the terrorist attacks. Volz has pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt Ney and others with trips and other largess.

*Lobbyist Shawn Vasell also had 18. Two were Bush events, likely a February bill signing and a Ford’s Theatre gala, that occurred this year, when Vasell was no longer working with Abramoff.

*Abramoff business partner [Michael] Scanlon, a former aide to then-Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, may have had one appointment; the White House couldn’t say for certain whether the name in the Secret Service log was the same person. Scanlon has pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe public officials while lobbying on behalf of Indian tribes.

*Former DeLay aide and Abramoff lobbying team member Tony Rudy had 13, none with Bush. Rudy has pleaded guilty to conspiring with Abramoff. Former Abramoff lobbying associate Kevin Ring, a former aide to California Republican Rep. John Doolittle (news, bio, voting record), had 21, none with Bush.

*Two former Abramoff lobbying colleagues who joined Bush’s administration, David Safavian and Patrick Pizzella, show up in the appointment logs countless times. Pizzella, an assistant secretary of labor, had 48, none with Bush. Among numerous meetings for Safavian, a former Bush administration procurement official who pleaded guilty to trying to hide his dealings with Abramoff, just one was with Bush, likely an employee holiday reception in 2004.

2 thoughts on “The White House as Free Range for Felons

  1. Installment number CCCLIV of “Can you imagine if this was a news story during the Clinton Administration?”
    “Felons visiting the White House! Were any of them in Vincent Foster’s office during their visits? That story, and the Republican bogus outrage, after these messages.”

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