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The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held their fourth hearing on lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his involvement in lobbying certain members of Congress and the White House. J. Steven Griles, former deputy secretary of the Interior testified, making him the highest-ranking official implicated in the Abramoff scandals.

Griles called the allegations "untrue" and "outrageous," despite being confronted with numerous e-mails documenting his involvement.

More inside.

Michael Rossetti, former counsel of the Interior secretary Gale Norton, also testified to the effect of Griles' involvement:

"I was alarmed that Mr. Griles all of a sudden had an inexplicable desire to be involved in this particular issue...who's water was he carrying on this issue?" (Source)

A key witness, Italia Federici, was unable to attend the hearing after receiving a subpoena from the Committee last week. Federici, a Republican 'environmentalist' and president of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA), is said to have acted on behalf of Abramoff to influence members of the Interior.

"Documents obtained in the course of the investigation suggest that Mr. Abramoff might have had his tribal clients pay so much because he perceived that CREA's president, Italia Federici, would help him get inside information about, and possibly influence, tribal issues pending at the Department of Interior."

The documents in question (warning: 318 pg. .pdf) contains numerous instances of Abramoff and Federici corresponding about meetings between Federici and Interior members. A March 1, 2001 e-mail details a party held by Federici and others for secretary Norton. In it, Abramoff offers to pay for the reception.

Another e-mail, dated March 22, 2001, details a meeting between Abramoff and Interior officials:

I met with the Interior guys today and they were ecstatic that the tribe was going to help. If you can get me a check via federal made out to "Council for Republican Enviornmental Advocacy" for $50K that would be great. This is really going to help. We'll chat tomorrow.

An additional hearing, most likely to be held next week, was established to focus solely on Federici, CREA and her participation on behalf of Abramoff and his clients.

CREA, which received at least $250,000 from Abramoff's tribal clients, was founded by then-secretary Gale Norton and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform also received kickbacks from Abramoff's tribal groups, including a $25,000 donation from the Lousiana Coushatta.

Also mentioned in the documents are Ralph Reed, former lobbyist of Abramoff's and candidate for Lt. Governor in Georgia. Reed, via Century Strategies, received funds from tribal clients through a labyrinthine passageway,

Says Abramoff in an e-mail to Reed:

The originating entity had to transfer to a separate account before they transferred to the entity which is going to transfer to you.

Abramoff and Reed used the American International Center, a think-tank established by former Tom DeLay press secretary Michael Scanlon, to launder the funds.

Reed received close to a million dollars from Abramoff's clients during a March 2001 to do the bidding of Abramoff's tribal clients in the Louisiana legislature. An e-mail documenting Reed's involvement in a LA Senate bill to Abramoff subsequently deleted all references to Reed when forwarded, presumably to protect Reed.

For more on the backstory of the Senate Indian Affairs hearings, see here, here, witness testimony from the June hearing here and testimony from today's hearing here.

Said the Committee's chair, John McCain, following the meeting, "All we did is follow the money."

Originally posted to jorndorff on Wed Nov 02, 2005 at 06:23 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for this excellent update (none)
    There are so many Bush admins scandals I can hardly keep up with them all.  Maybe we can do a pack of cards like the military did after the Iraq invasion.  The Interior Deputy Secretary noted above can be the 2 of Clubs.  I nominate Abramoff for one of the "Jacks".  
  •  Watched Expecting Some Fireworks (none)
    But was a little disappointed.  One of the key players in this took the Fifth Amendment (after having allowed himself to be interviewed by staff members of the Indian Affairs Committee).  Meanwhile, watching Mr. Griles claim that he could not remember conversations that Mr. Rosetti remembered vividly, was interesting but not very informative.  The Abramoff's financial planner also was not as helpful as I might have liked.  In particular, I was wondering whether one of the entities had anything to do with Mr. Safavian.

    I hope Josh Marshall or the Washington Post draws some pretty pictures for me to connect the dots.

    •  Yeh (none)
      Sans Federici, the hearing didn't have the controversy it could have. With Federici likely to testify next week, it should bring much more to light.

      Griles isn't new to scandal. He's been described as an 'Enegizer Bunny of conflict of interest.' Primarily a lobbyist himself, he sought to kill as much environmental legislation he could to foster corporate welfare.

      The documents were much more noteworthy than the testimony, though not nearly as entertaining as Abramoff typical is. (No mention of troglodytes or monkeys this time around.)

      "Mr. Bush's relationship to the environment is roughly that of a doctor to a patient--when the doctor's name is Kevorkian." Bob Herbert, NYT

      by jorndorff on Wed Nov 02, 2005 at 07:17:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  On C-Span 2 Now (none)

    Really worth watching.
    •  I watched this morning......... (none)

      The bottom line is how easy it was for Abramhoff to relieve the Indians of their money and pass it through so-called Christian fronts to the likes of Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist and Tom Delay.  As for Griles, he's obviously an accomplished liar.  Was it just me or did his face get redder and redder as the tesimony went on?  

      "He that sees but does not bear witness, be accursed" Book of Jubilees

      by Lying eyes on Wed Nov 02, 2005 at 07:46:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep (none)
        He looked increasingly ill. And what was with him saying AbraHoff repeatedly?

        Was he trying to make the case that he didn't even know how to say Abramoff's name?

        "Mr. Bush's relationship to the environment is roughly that of a doctor to a patient--when the doctor's name is Kevorkian." Bob Herbert, NYT

        by jorndorff on Wed Nov 02, 2005 at 07:49:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary - this needs greater exposure. (none)
  •  This was a big story today, but overlooked. (none)
    I just finished a review of the 318 pages in the PDF. WOW! There are many more scandals in those pages. Ralph's efforts in Georgia should be a bit more difficult as a result.

    These documents will be digested and compared to the other Abramoff/DeLay documents on file at the AP, WP, Bloomberg, WSJ, NYTs, DOJ and other organizations. And then more shoes will drop.

    Like who were the Russians mentioned on page 71?

    Or what about Kevin Ring? Or any of the dozens of others mentioned.

    We need to keep Abramoff in the mix and in the news. Please recommend this.

  •  a map of the right wing DNA (none)
    That's basically what this Abramoff story is.

    If we could just figure out how to tell it, we could show the country exactly how these fuckers operate. It's all pay to play; Casino Jack and pals were just more overt about it than most.

    Particularly compared to outing spies and the war over the judiciary, this is a tough one to make sexy. But it's really the key to a whole decade of rancid Republican rule.

    Recommended. Keep pushing.

  •  This is some powerful stuff. (4.00)
    Former officials from Bush administration testifying now. These folks have made millions on the backs of the poor, all the while proclaim virtues and claiming the moral high ground. This is the same bunch that Norquist, Ralph Reed and all the other pious, holier than thou folks have been playing with.

    Same group that DeLay is entangled with. Abramhoff -- quite a character. All those psuedo companies used as front to launder money.

    Few Republicans, have stepped up to decry this kind of action.

    Again, these are the keepers of virtues, moral values and purity in this country.

    We need a serious town hall meeting to discuss the values issues.

    I have never seen a bunch of crooks in my life --using the Bible to steal, cheat and lie.

  •  I'm sorry--Sniper's Training? (none)
    I caught part of the hearing on C-Span, and I swear Abramoff's accountant was being asked about an e-mail suggesting to her some money might be flowed through a Sniper's Training organization, with the thought that maybe it's a 501(c)3 (or somesuch) group.

    Isn't this the same guy whose company gave huge consulting fees to two men who later killed a man who, coincidentally, was a business rival?

    Kerry really should have run on his "Lying Group of Thugs" remark. Come to think of it, it's still good for '06.

    •  Yes, in Israel no less (none)
      The accountant's defense waffled a few times. First, she said she had no idea it involved sniper training. Later, when McCain read aloud an e-mail where she clearly had knowledge that the program was for sniper training she said that she thought it just happened for something else. (Security and defense-related but not sniper training.)

      Yes, Abramoff's the fellow who paid a few guys rather large 'catoring fees' (one of which was an ex-Gotti mobster), who were later arrested in the murder of ex-SunCruz owner Gus Boulis.

      All rather shady dealings, but not suprising considering Abramoff cut his teeth with Contra talking tours during the Reagan years.

      "Mr. Bush's relationship to the environment is roughly that of a doctor to a patient--when the doctor's name is Kevorkian." Bob Herbert, NYT

      by jorndorff on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 03:53:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Now why... (none)
    would your post make me think of the gangland murder of Suncruz Casino founder 'Gus' Boulis?

    How does one support the troops while betraying the CIA?

    by Heimyankel on Wed Nov 02, 2005 at 11:00:35 PM PST

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