Sue Ralston with Dubya
Don't forget that Jack Abramoff's own secretary, Susan Ralston, became Karl Rove's Personal Assistant, and that Abramoff said he contacted Rove personally on relieving his client Tyco from having to pay some taxes and still be able to get federal contracts. Abramoff said "he had contact with Mr. Karl Rove" on Tyco.
But that's not the half of it! It was only revealed this August that in 2002 Bush himself fired a prosecutor, Frederick Black, investigating Abramoff over a scandal in Guam. Rove recommended the replacement and the inquiry of Abramoff ended! ""The demotion of ... Black looks political and should be investigated," Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said in a press release." It would be Obstruction of Justice by Bush if true.
PLUS Bush never repaid Abramoff's firm, Greenberg, $314,000 in bills for the 2000 Recount, making it in effect a HUGE in-kind contribution to Bush! SO BUSH OWES ABRAMOFF BIG-TIME. And Abramoff himself was a "Pioneer", raising over $100,000 for Bush in 2004.
My investigation on the flip, Jack!
Seems I have a recollection of hearing that somewhere before. Maybe Scotty could beam up another conversation with Karl swearing he had no recollection.
And now with investigators HOT on the trail of aides getting juicy jobs in return for favors, the prosecutors MUST be looking into the whole Abramoff-Rove-Ralston deal. My number 1 diary on the Rec list covers today's story in the NYT: Abramoff About to Flip on Delay and GOP? Dems to take Congress?
In addition, Rove's credibility from the CIA Leak case is now zero, so I believe prosecutors may be about to press him on his "no recollection" claim.
But here's the BIG NEWS just dredged up from the bottom of the Abramoff Slime-Pit:
Update [2005-12-2 11:41:16 by Sherlock Google]: BUSH SILENCED PREVIOUS ABRAMOFF INVESTIGATION IN 2002. KARL HELPED TO GET BUSH REMOVE FREDERICK BLACK FROM ABRAMOFF CASE AND CLOSE INVESTIGATION OF GUAM SCANDAL!
An early administration attempt to cover for Abramoff?
This from today's LA Times ...
A U.S. grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, but President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor and the inquiry ended soon after.
Aug 07, 2005 -- 12:24:03 PM EST
The article goes on to explain that the Superior Court in Guam hired Abramoff to lobby against a bill under consideration in Congress which would have placed the Superior Court under the authority of the island's Supreme Court -- which certainly sounds like a sensible approach (the bill later passed). Perhaps because of the oddity -- to say the least -- of an inferior court hiring lobbyists to secure its independence from a superior (or in this case, Supreme) court, the Superior Court arranged for a cut-out from Laguna Beach, California, an attorney named Howard Hills.
More details from the Times ...
The transactions were the target of a grand jury subpoena issued Nov. 18, 2002, according to a copy obtained by The Times. The subpoena demanded that Anthony Sanchez, administrative director of the Guam Superior Court, release records involving the lobbying contract, including bills and payments.
A day later, the chief prosecutor, U.S. Atty. Frederick A. Black, who had launched the investigation, was demoted. A White House news release announced that Bush was replacing Black.
Black was also apparently less than popular with the island's immigrant-labor-driven textile businesses because he had started a post September 11th investigation into whether the island's loose immigration policies represented a security risk ...
The acting U.S. attorney was a controversial official in Guam. At the time he was removed, Black was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the administration of then-Gov. Carl Gutierrez. The inquiry produced numerous indictments, including some of the governor's political associates and top aides.
Black also arranged for a security review in the aftermath of Sept. 11 that was seen as a potential threat to loose immigration rules favored by local business leaders. In fact, the study ordered by Black eventually cited substantial security risks in Guam and the Northern Marianas.
Abramoff, who then represented the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, alerted his clients in a memo about the expected report and warned: "It will require some major action from the Hill and a press attack to get this back in the bottle."
It is of course important to remember that all of this happened before the scandals began to erupt around Abramoff. Thus it would have been before he became so radioactive that the White House began to wash its collective hands of him. Note that the article suggests Karl Rove's direct involvement in the choice of Black's replacement.
FROM CREW: "The fact that Mr. Black's demotion apparently resulted in the termination of a serious public corruption investigation into a friend of the White House, makes the situation all the more egregious," according to Sloan. "This administration needs to be held accountable for its actions. An investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General would be a good first step."
Black was demoted a day after a Nov. 18, 2002 federal grand jury subpoena directed at Anthony Sanchez, administrative director of the local court at the time the payments to Abramoff were made through a California attorney, according to the watchdog's letter to the Justice Department inspector general.
From Bloomberg, Oct 30, 2005: Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine is looking into the reasons behind Black's removal as acting U.S. attorney, spokesman Paul Martin said. The Los Angeles Times reported in August that Black's demotion came after he began exploring Abramoff's lobbying efforts on behalf of court officials in Guam, another U.S. territory.
Here is a summary of the case from Political Amazon on the Rhodes blog:
1) In May Abramoff was retained BY A SECRET ARRANGEMENT with the Guam Superior Court, paid with a series of $9000 checks (laundered through his agent in California) to disguise the arrangement between Abramaoff and the Guam Superior Court. No separate contract was authorized for Abramoff's lobbying on the behalf of the Superior Court. No explanation has been given by the court regarding Abramoff's retention and his work.
2) Abramoff was retained to "...lobby against a court revision bill then pending in the U.S. Congress. The legislation, since approved, gave the Guam Supreme Court authority over the Superior Court."
3) U.S. Attorney Frederick A. Black--who had held the acting U.S. Attorney assignment for over a decade--issued a grand jury subpoena on 11/18/2002; the subpoena demanded that the administrative director of the Guam Superior Court release records regarding the contract with Abrahmoff, including bills and payments.
4) A day later, a White House news release indicated that Bush Jr was replacing Atty. Gen. Black.
5) Atty. Gen. Black was also, when dismissed, conducing a long-term investigation in corruption into reported corruption in the administration of then-Gov. Carl Gutierrez. Black's inquiry had resulted in numerous indictments (which included some of the governor's political pals and aides).
6) Atty. Gen. Black had also, after 9/11, started a major security review of Guam and the Northern Marianas. At the time, Abramoff represented the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas. The business community liked the loose immigration rules because it provided a labor source. Atty. Gen. Black's study ended with outlining major security risks in Guam and the Northern Marianas.
7) Abramoff, after the findings of the secruity risks was published, "...alerted his clients in a memo about the expected report and warned: 'It will require some major action from the Hill and a press attack to get this back in the bottle.'....he and his aides expected to meet in the near future with Justice Department officials, according to Abramoff billing documents released this year by the Marianas government."
8) After the subpoenas were released for information from the Superior Court, Guam's federal grand jury took no further action. However, 3 weeks later 100 pages of documents had been provided, which were turned over to the FBI investigating the case.
9) Black's replacement was Leonardo Rapadas, at the recommendation of the Guam Republican Party. He was confirmed--without debate-- in May 2003. "Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist who had been under contract to the Gutierrez administration, said he carried that recommendation to top Bush aide Karl Rove in early 2003."
10) Upon assuming his position, Rapadas immediately recused himself from the ongoing public corruption investigation of ex-gov. Gutierrez because Rapadas was "...a cousin of 'one of the main targets," according to a confidential memo to Justice Department officials."
Here is the involvement of Abramoff, Rove and Ralston on the Tyco favor as well as an admitted quid pro quo on money for the Choctaw Indian Tribe, one of Flippin Jack's clients:
Tyco Exec: Abramoff Claimed Ties to Administration
By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 23, 2005; Page A06
Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff bragged two years ago that he was in contact with White House political aide Karl Rove on behalf of a large, Bermuda-based corporation that wanted to avoid incurring some taxes and continue receiving federal contracts, according to a written statement by President Bush's nominee to be deputy attorney general.
Timothy E. Flanigan, general counsel for conglomerate Tyco International Ltd., said in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that Abramoff's lobbying firm initially boasted that Abramoff could help Tyco fend off a special liability tax because he "had good relationships with members of Congress," including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).
Abramoff later said "he had contact with Mr. Karl Rove" about the issue, according to the statement by Flanigan, who oversaw Tyco's dealings with Abramoff and his firm and received reports from Abramoff about progress in the lobbying campaign. Flanigan's statement is the latest indication that Abramoff promoted himself as having ready access to senior officials in the Bush administration.
A White House spokeswoman, Erin Healy, said Rove "has no recollection" of being contacted by Abramoff about Tyco's concerns.
Rove's personal assistant at the time, Susan Ralston, formerly worked as Abramoff's secretary. It could not be learned yesterday whether she was among those contacted by any of the 14-person Greenberg team recorded as working on the Tyco account.
The Bush administration was never enthusiastic about the tax penalty, but both the House and Senate approved language in 2002 denying federal contracts to companies largely based in the United States but incorporated in tax havens.
Tyco was among a raft of companies, including Ingersoll-Rand and Noble Corp., that hired an army of lobbyists to stall the legislation and ultimately kill most of it. House Republican leaders argued that corporate flight was merely a symptom of a much broader problem with the U.S. tax code that should be treated in a larger tax reform package.
Ralston previously worked as a personal secretary to Jack Abramoff, the Republican power lobbyist being investigated for allegations of defrauding Indian tribes who was recently indicted on conspiracy and wire fraud charges. While working with Abramoff, Ralston arranged fundraisers and events at Washington MCI Center skyboxes for members of Congress. Ralston communicated with Rove on Abramoff's behalf on tribal affairs, though she is not accused of wrongdoing.
On December 05, 2001, Abramoff is concerned with the possible appointment of Angie Williams to head the Interior Department's Office of Insular Affairs. The office, and who runs it, is important to Abramoff, because it oversees relations with one of his most important clients, the Northern Mariana Islands. (He has arranged many junkets there for members of Congress and their staffs. On one of them, in 1997, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay had publicly declared Abramoff to be "one of my closest and dearest friends.") Angie Williams, who has applied for the job and been interviewed by the Office of Presidential Personnel, worries Abramoff, because she is the wife of Orson Swindle, a close friend of Senator John McCain, who has tangled with Abramoff in the past. He finds sympathy in Reed, who has also been at odds with McCain. The two even refer to Williams--incorrectly, but tellingly--as "McCain's wife:"
Subject: RE: were you able to whack McCain's wife yet?
From Abramoff to Reed, Tuesday, December 4, 2001, 6:26 p.m.:
Angie Williams is her name.
From Reed to Abramoff, Wednesday, December 5, 2001, 11:53 a.m.:
weighed in heavily. [But the White House] OPP [Office of Presidential Personnel] did not commit to final decision.
From Abramoff to Reed, Wednesday, December 5, 2001, 1:24 p.m.:
Any ideas on how we can make sure she does not get it? Can you ping Karl on this? I can't believe they just don't get this done.
From Reed to Abramoff, Wednesday, December 5, 2001, 2:25 p.m.:
i am seeing him tomorrow at the WH and plan to discuss it with him as well.
On February 06, 2003, Abramoff is frustrated. He has tried to get Rove's attention through Susan Ralston, Abramoff's former assistant, who now works in the same doorkeeping capacity for Rove. The issue at hand is a move by the Interior Department to allow a casino to be built by a tribe that is a rival of Abramoff's client, the Louisiana Coushattas. Ralston rebuffs him, so he turns to Reed:
From Abramoff to Ralston, Thursday, February 06, 2003, 4:24 p.m:
I don't want to bother you guys with a meeting request, so I was hoping you could pass on to Karl that Interior is about to approve a gaming compact and land in trust for a tribe which is an anathema to all our supporters down there. It's called the Jena tribe, and the politicos (!) at Interior (low-mid level) are agreeing to this. It will cause a major backlash from our coalition and is something which they should not do on the merits. I believe that [Deputy Secretary of the Interior] Steve Griles over there would be opposed, but it's important, if possible, to get some quiet message from the WH that this is absurd. Thanks Susan.
From Ralston to Abramoff, Tuesday, February 11, 2003, 3:04 p.m.:
Karl and others are aware, but the WH is not going to get involved.
(Abramoff then encloses this exchange in an e-mail to Reed.)
From Abramoff to Reed, February 11, 2003, 4:48 p.m.:
Don't pass on, but thought you would be interested in this. Don't share with anyone. Thanks.
From Reed to Abramoff, February 11, 2003, 4:52 p.m.:
this is nuts. want any help on this one?
From Abramoff to Reed:
Yes, if possible. I think Haley [Barbour, the Mississippi Governor] got to them. they are making a huge mistake to just let this pass, when a quiet phone call can end this idiocy. If you can weigh in, it would help. Thanks Ralph.
Late that year, the Department of the Interior came down against the interests of Abramoff's client, but Abramoff and his allies still managed to block the rival tribe at the state level.
In another exchange, Ralph Reed was in Austin, Texas listening to Karl Rove deliver a speech to the Republican National Committee. Rove set forth GOP themes for the upcoming mid-term elections, and first suggested deploying President Bush's war on terrorism for electoral advantage. As Rove put it: "We can go to the country on this issue, because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America." As Reed listened, he reached for his Blackberry and e-mailed Abramoff:
From Reed to Amramoff, January 18, 2002 2:15 p.m.:
Am at a lunch with Rove at the RNC meeting and just talked to the AG [then Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, now a U.S. senator]. Will report the substance shortly."
Abramoff asks Reed to raise an "urgent" matter with Rove--getting $16 million released by the Justice Department to fund a Mississippi Choctaw jail. In a return e-mail, Reed agrees to do that, saying "ok". Congress had earmarked some $16.3 million for a jail long sought by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw, a key Abramoff client. But the Justice Department resisted turning over the big grant to the already wealthy Mississippi Choctaws, noting that other Indian jails needed it more.
From Abramoff to Reed, January 18, 2002 2:28 p.m.:
I have an urgent matter for him. The Choctaws [the Mississippi Choctaws were an Abramoff client] -- who have given literally hundreds of thousands to our candidates and groups - are getting screwed at DoJ [The Department of Justice] on a jail funding . . . We really need some serious swat from Karl. I have asked Susan [Ralston] to get me in to see him on this, but if you could mention it, perhaps I could get him the materials and save the need to meet? Thanks Ralph.
Reed to Ambramoff, January 20, 2002 10:57 p.m.:
In addition to broaching the matter with the White House, Abramoff also lobbied Republicans and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, who wrote letters to Attorney General John Ashcroft supporting the jail's funding. Later in 2002, the Department of Justice released the money to the Mississippi Choctaws--another victory for Abramoff and Reed.
My hunch is that Rove got approval from Bush for all of Abramoff's and Reed's qui pro quo requests. And here Rove let Ralston be White House gatekeeper, Flippin Jack's lobbyist mole and inside facilitator! On top of the favors for jobs investigation story in the NY Times today, this Ralston-Rove-Abramoff connection really deserves a deeper look by the blogosphere.
This Choctaw jail funding is CLEARLY a confessed quid pro quo and Rove, Ralston and the White House are all involved:
The Choctaws [the Mississippi Choctaws were an Abramoff client] -- who have given literally hundreds of thousands to our candidates and groups - are getting screwed at DoJ [The Department of Justice] on a jail funding . . . We really need some serious swat from Karl. I have asked Susan [Ralston] to get me in to see him on this, but if you could mention it, perhaps I could get him the materials and save the need to meet?
The e-mails really illustrate The Culture of Corruption quite nicely. The e-mail replaces the tape recordings of the Watergate Scandal!
Because of the senior approvals needed for so many of Abramoff's schemes, Bush must be involved. Keeping Karl on now is a double whammy.