Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Associated Press: DeLay and Abramoff talked daily

From Sharon Theimer of AP:

The Northern Marianas billing and correspondence records of Abramoff's former lobbying firm, Preston Gates, were obtained by The Associated Press under an open records request approved by the island government.

They provide a day-by-day account of the lobbyist's campaign of fundraising, trip-providing and schmoozing with lawmakers in both parties aimed at getting Congress to block Clinton administration efforts to regulate alleged "sweatshop" garment factories in the Northern Marianas. Those rules were never enacted.

DeLay, R-Texas, is now the House majority leader, but back then he was the No. 3 official in the House. His job as majority whip involved counting the way lawmakers intended to vote, which often influenced when legislation would come to a vote in the GOP-led Congress. Though Abramoff billed the island for contacts with dozens of lawmakers, DeLay's office was among the most frequently listed in the billing records.


The documents show that Abramoff's firm and the House Ethics Committee began having concerns as early as 1996 about Abramoff's arrangement of numerous trips for congressional members to the Pacific islands and how they were being paid.

Abramoff billed numerous trips to his personal credit card or the firm, the records state, and then he later pressed the islands to reimburse him to avoid violating the new ban on lobbyists giving gifts to House members.

"I am under pressure here since the firm, under the gift ban rules, is not allowed to be out of pocket too long on the costs of congressional member and staff travel," Abramoff wrote in November 1996.

Maybe Abramoff should have paid closer attention to those credit card charges, as this Sunday's Post article attests to...

Abramoff, or someone very close to him, is singing. Handwriting is on the wall. DeLay's gotta be feeling the heat.

UPDATE: And this from Karen Tumulty at TIME -- gifts galore from Abramoff to DeLay staffers. All these costs were probably reimbursed by clients, too, don't you think?


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