- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The U.S. Secret Service yesterday released records showing that Jack Abramoff was granted access to the White House two times, and new e-mails depict a familiar relationship between the convicted lobbyist and a former administration employee accused of lying to FBI investigators.

The 154 pages of e-mails of David Safavian and Abramoff, which were obtained from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), include invitations to play golf or racquetball and to dine together, particularly at Signatures, the restaurant Abramoff owned.

In one of the e-mails, Mr. Safavian, who worked at the General Services Administration (GSA) before becoming OMB’s top procurement official, alerts Abramoff to a pending bill in Congress that would give the GSA “enormous latitude” in disposing of U.S. property — something of interest to Abramoff.

Several e-mails also refer to a “Karl,” but White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said they “do not believe these are references to Karl Rove,” and the e-mails refer to the person in a way so familiar it is unlikely to be Mr. Rove, who was special adviser to President Bush at the time.

Abramoff’s dealings with the administration and members of Congress have become a major political issue heading into the November elections, and the e-mails and access records add a few more details to the picture.

Abramoff pleaded guilty in January to federal charges of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials. Mr. Safavian has pleaded not guilty to charges that he lied to prosecutors by denying Abramoff had business before him while Mr. Safavian worked at the GSA.

Mr. Safavian later joined OMB, becoming administrator of OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy in November 2004. He resigned Sept. 16 last year, days before he was arrested in the Abramoff probe.

The White House access records were released to Judicial Watch, a conservative interest group that had to go to court under the Freedom of Information Act to force the Secret Service to release them.

They show a 26-minute visit March 6, 2001, and a 47-minute visit Jan. 1, 2004.

The White House has acknowledged several other visits that the records don’t show, and Judicial Watch yesterday questioned what was released. They said records released during the Clinton administration showed details such as who requested the visit.

“I think they’re purposely withholding additional information,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fiitton. “They know more about these visits, and they chose not to release it.”

Secret Service spokesman Jonathan Cherry said what was released were the access control records, which do not include who submitted the visitor’s name or the purpose of the visit.

He said access control records also don’t necessarily capture every time a person visits the White House or the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and cited the example of someone coming in as part of a group for a ceremony or event.

The e-mails include friendly banter, such as this response when Abramoff writes that his lunch plans have been canceled and asks Mr. Safavian if he is still available:

“Can’t pull it off today. When you spurned my invite, I called one of the industry sycophants and offered him an opportunity to suck up,” Mr. Safavian wrote on July 6, 2004.

“Damn, I want to be the one to suck up!!! Now I have to go meet this guy in Reston!” Abramoff replies.

In another e-mail, Mr. Safavian asks whether Abramoff still wants a former colleague put on a panel even though the man had left Abramoff’s firm. Abramoff said yes, adding, “He is still absolutely part of our family.” The man was not put on the panel.

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