Abramoff's White House links
A Times Editorial
Published October 10, 2006
The more the Bush administration denies any past relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the hotter the trail gets to the Oval Office. Abramoff's fingerprints have now been found in the White House. Susan Ralston, presidential adviser Karl Rove's top aide, resigned last week after it was revealed she took expensive gifts from Abramoff in exchange for access.
The gifts and communication were detailed in a report by the House Committee on Government Reform. Based on documents released by Abramoff's former lobbying firm, the committee identified 66 contacts between the Abramoff and White House officials - 17 meetings, seven phone calls and 42 e-mails. More than half of those were with Ralston, who previously worked for Abramoff. Meanwhile, she was accepting gifts from Abramoff, often tickets to sporting and entertainment events - in one instance tickets to an NBA game valued at $1,300, an apparent violation of White House rules capping the value of gifts from lobbyists at $20.
Abramoff didn't always get his way with the administration. But sometimes he did, particularly in promoting the interests of Indian tribes and officials of American territories he represented. Yet even with the Ralston resignation, the administration remains indifferent to Abramoff's corrupting influence. Ralston was thanked for her service, and the White House counsel's office said it would close its inquiry into the matter, adding there would be "no further fallout from the report."
It may not be so easy to keep distancing President Bush from Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud and bribery charges and is serving a prison term. Only a full investigation of Abramoff's connections to the White House can close this case.
[Last modified October 10, 2006, 02:04:42]
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