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Former White House procurement chief David Safavian was found guilty yesterday in the first case involving the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The Washington Post notes that the scandal has yielded four other guilty pleas, and that the conviction further endangers Congressman Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who is also tied to Abramoff. Joel Seidman of NBC News writes a detailed summary of the evidence used in the case, and comments on the likely trial of Ney on the horizon. Finally, Roll Call (subscription only) reports Safavian will most likely appeal his conviction of four felony counts.
NBC’s First Read is reporting that the Democratic National Committee will file an appeal today with the White House Office of Administration in their search for records documenting how many times disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, recently convicted procurement officer David Safavian, and other Abramoff colleagues and associates visited the White House. In May, the DNC filed its second request for the records, but was unsuccessful in retrieving them. (We have blogged about the previous efforts to retrieve the records, which resulted in a grand total of two - count 'em - two recorded visits. Can new White House Press Secretary Tony Snow spell s-t-o-n-e-w-a-l-l...?)
The National Journal’s Congress Daily reports that the House lobbying and ethics overhaul package will most likely not meet its July 4th deadline as disagreements over gift rules and earmark overhauls continue to be contentious issues between the Senate and the House. While the Senate bill zeroes out the gift rule, prohibiting any and all gifts from lobbyists, the House refuses to change the existing rule, despite recent lobbying scandals, such as Jack Abramoff’s famous St. Andrew’s golf trip.
Jack Abramoff's lead attorney, Abbe Lowell, writes in USA Today on lobbying and ethics reform where he states - believe it or not - “As long as campaign engines need to be fueled, special interests and lobbyists who have the most immediate interest in legislation will have the most incentive to supply the gas. This gives lobbyists an unfair advantage in access and persuasion.” It sounds like he's been reading our Clean Up Washington materials! Lowell calls for a re-examination of the relationship between lobbyists and public officials, and outlines some reform proposals.
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