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    Santorum Denies Ties To "K Street Project" - Video Inside

    Santorum denies ties to 'K Street Project'

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06026/644541.stm

    Video Of Norquist With Santorum
    Click Here

    By Maeve Reston, Post-Gazette National Bureau
    Thursday, January 26, 2006

    WASHINGTON -- With Democrats comparing his ties to lobbyists with "organized crime," Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., yesterday swung back, saying the Democratic criticism amounted to libel and unequivocally denying that he helped shape the GOP's controversial "K Street Project."

    The "K Street Project," which was led by conservative activist Grover Norquist and then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, was an effort to press Washington's lobbying firms and trade associations to hire Republicans who share their agenda. It gets its name from the street where many of the firms are based.

    Democrat have criticized the project as an attempt to funnel millions of dollars in lobbying money to the GOP.

    Since he became the Senate's third-ranking Republican in 2001, Mr. Santorum has held weekly meetings with top Republican lobbyists at which he discusses, among other matters, job openings at Washington lobbying firms.

    But, in interviews with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he has said those discussions -- which he previously referred to as "the K Street meetings" -- are merely to ensure Republicans are putting forward good candidates for the jobs.

    Mr. Santorum flatly denied yesterday that the meetings were an integral part of the "K Street Project."

    Though publications such as The Washington Post, Roll Call and Washington Monthly have all reported that Mr. Santorum's meetings were a central part of Mr. Norquist's "K Street Project" strategy, Mr. Santorum said yesterday that his meetings were a separate initiative.

    "I had absolutely nothing to do -- never met, never talked, never coordinated, never did anything -- with Grover Norquist and the -- quote -- K Street Project," Mr. Santorum said.

    "[Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid made a statement that I meet with Grover Norquist every Wednesday," Mr. Santorum added. "I don't meet with him every Wednesday. I have nothing to do with this project and for [Mr. Reid] to make that statement is libelous. It's absolutely false."

    When asked why he had never publicly disputed the press reports of his involvement in the "K Street Project," Mr. Santorum said he viewed the term the "K Street Project" as a generic reference that could include his overtures to lobbyists and trade associations.

    "I didn't even know what Grover Norquist was up to," Mr. Santorum said last night. "Why would I object to something that I thought was a description of our coalition's outreach, which we do to a whole variety of different groups."

    Mr. Norquist said in an interview earlier this week that Mr. Santorum, who is in the midst of a tough re-election campaign, was not involved in the formation of the "K Street Project" in the mid-1990s. But Mr. Norquist, who is president of Americans for Tax Reform, said he did go to one of Mr. Santorum's regular meetings with the lobbyists to tell them about the "K Street Project" and its goals. He could not recall the date; the Washington Post reported that Mr. Norquist met with the group in June 2002.

    Mr. Santorum also said he never saw the dossier assembled by Mr. Norquist tracking how much money individual lobbyists and employees at trade associations were giving to Democrats and Republicans. Mr. Norquist told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Mr. Santorum was not involved in compiling the data.

    Because of press reports three years ago that the dossier was being used to threaten lobbying firms that were Democratic-leaning, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics issued a "Dear colleague" letter in August 2002, reminding senators it would be a violation of Senate rules to limit lobbyists' access on the basis of their hiring decisions or an individual's campaign contributions.

    Mr. Santorum publicly expressed disappointment about the hiring of Democrats for at least two top lobbying jobs -- former Clinton administration officials Dan Glickman for the Motion Picture Association in 2004 and Rudy de Leon for the top lobbying job at Boeing Corp. in 2001 -- but the senator said yesterday that his comments were not related to the "K Street Project."

    Mr. Reid said yesterday said he had asked the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to begin a public investigation of the "K Street Project."

    "If there were ever a scandal, this is it," said Mr. Reid, D-Nev. "What has taken place there I think will be written about in history books in the years to come as one of the classic scandals in the history of our country."

    There is also a discrepancy over whether former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who set off the furor over lobbying rules when he pleaded guilty earlier this month to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe lawmakers, attended one of Mr. Santorum's first K Street meetings.

    Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, reported in 2001 that Mr. Abramoff, who had close relationships with Mr. DeLay and Mr. Norquist, was one of more than a dozen lobbyists attending the meeting. Mr. Santorum said that he does not remember Mr. Abramoff being there.

    "He could have been -- I just don't know," Mr. Santorum said yesterday after testifying at a congressional hearing where he laid out his goals for the package of lobbying rule changes that he plans to present.

    "I don't recall ever meeting him. I don't. When I saw his picture in the paper that was not a face that was familiar to me. I never consciously remember meeting him. Could he have been in a fund-raiser, could he have been someplace where I was? Sure."

    In spite of Mr. Santorum's statements that he did not have a relationship with Mr. Abramoff, the Democrats have tried to link the senator to the fallen lobbyist. In an ad critical of Mr. Santorum and the "K Street Project" at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's Web site, an image of Mr. Abramoff pops out of a witch's cauldron that is being stirred by a figure topped with Mr. Santorum's head.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #2
    beltman713 Guest
    Classic "busted" video.

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