- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 30, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff had hundreds of contacts with White House officials but they brought mixed results for his clients, according to a congressional report.

The draft report of the House Government Reform Committee said the documents — largely Abramoff’s billing records and e-mail — listed 485 lobbying contacts with White House officials over three years, including 10 with top Bush aide Karl Rove.

Abramoff and his associates were successful in getting appropriations for some of their Indian clients, but efforts to influence presidential appointments and nominations “were often not successful,” according to the report.

The report indicated that Abramoff and his associates lobbied on behalf of more than 20 people for administration jobs but were successful only once.

Another time the lobbyist, who received lucrative payments from Indian tribal clients, was infuriated that some White House officials said they could work with Indian tribes directly without the need for lobbyists.

“This is horrible,” Abramoff wrote his colleagues, using an expletive to describe the way he and his associates were being treated.

There were several instances where the documents — supplied by Abramoff’s former lobbying firm — indicated Mr. Rove ate at an Abramoff restaurant, Signatures. There was one occasion in which Abramoff got Mr. Rove NCAA basketball tournament tickets, but Mr. Rove paid for them.

“I just saw Karl … and mentioned the NCAA opportunity, which he was really jazzed about it,” Abramoff wrote Rove aide Susan Ralston.

“Karl has to pay for his tickets,” Ms. Ralston e-mailed the lobbyist.

Abramoff responded that the cost would be $50 for each ticket, “payable to me, personally.”

The White House confirmed that Mr. Rove paid for the tickets.

Learning that Mr. Rove would appear at his restaurant, Abramoff wrote, “I want him to be given a very nice bottle of wine and have Joseph whisper in his ear (only he should hear) that Abramoff wanted him to have this wine on the house.”

The report said that of the 485 contacts listed, 345 were described as meetings or other in-person contacts; 71 were described as phone conversations and 69 were e-mail exchanges.

The White House responded by sharply criticizing Abramoff.

“It is shocking and deeply disturbing that this admitted and proven liar ripped off his clients by over-billing and over-selling his supposed influence with any number of policy-makers,” said Dana Perino, deputy White House press secretary.

Referring to the wine, Miss Perino said the idea that Abramoff ingratiated himself to Rove by sending him a bottle of wine was laughable. Anyone “who knows Rove knows that he doesn’t drink alcohol,” she said.

The records cover the period from January 2001 through March 2004, and included the work of 20 lobbyists. Abramoff in January pleaded guilty to four counts of conspiracy, one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion. In his plea agreement, he admitted he defrauded his clients. Some of the contacts in the records could not be verified by the committee, the report said.

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