House committee investigates Abramoff-White House links

Published: Thursday July 20, 2006

Members of the Government Reform Committee of the House of Representatives have initiated an investigation into connections between executive branch officials and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, RAW STORY has learned.

A story in today's Roll Call reported that Reps. Tom Davis (R - VA) and Henry Waxman (D - CA) issued a subpoena that sought e-mails, billing records and other documents from several firms linked to the former lobbyist. The members of Congress seek to explore "all documents that reflect contacts by Mr. Abramoff or his associates" with President George W. Bush, Karl Rove, and other White House and broad range of other current and former executive branch officials.

Rep. Davis indicated that hearings related to the contents of the investigation are not currently schedulded.

An excerpt of the subscription-only story is available below.

The committee, according to a copy of a March 2 letter sent to Kevin Downey, an attorney who is representing Greenberg Traurig in the investigation, is seeking “to understand the nature and extent of Jack Abramoff’s interactions with public officials in the executive branch, including the White House, and the legislative branch.” Government Reform’s jurisdiction includes the White House and executive branch agencies, but it does not extend to the legislative branch.

Davis and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member on Government Reform, are seeking “all documents that reflect contacts by Mr. Abramoff or his associates” with a number of White House officials, starting with Bush and Rove, and extending into the political, legislative, and intergovernmental affairs offices at the White House, according to a copy of the subpoena reviewed by Roll Call. The committee is seeking information on contacts beginning in 1998 and running until the present date.

Records recently released by the Secret Service under pressure from watchdog groups indicate that Abramoff attended at least a half-dozen meetings or social events at the White House, including at least one with Bush himself.

Other current or former White House aides from whom the committee wants information on any Abramoff-related contacts include: Ken Mehlman, now Republican National Committee chairman; Susan Ralston, Rove’s assistant who had worked for Abramoff before going to the White House; Nick Calio and David Hobbs, both former heads of the White House legislative affairs shop; Jack Oliver, one of Bush’s top fundraisers; Jack Howard, a former deputy assistant to the president for legislative affairs; Barry Jackson, one of Rove’s top aides; Eric Pelletier, deputy assistant to president for legislative affairs; Ziad Ojakli and Matt Kirk, both of whom worked in the legislative affairs office; and dozens of others.