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Tale of a Political Firing

The Bush administration has claimed that uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff got "nothing" out of his hundreds of visits and gifts to the White House. But the House oversight committee has the goods on Abramoff getting the White House to can a top State Dept. official.

State Dept. Clinton appointee Alan Stayman pushed for labor reforms in the Northern Mariana Islands. That proved a bad career move because the Marianas Islands was a client of Abramoff’s lobbying firm, Greenburg Traurig. In 2001, White House officials worked with Greenburg Traurig to orchestrate the firing of Stayman though they knew State was "very upset" with the dismissal.

The committee report gets into the minutiae of a series of emails between top Greenburg lobbyist Tony Rudy (who seemed to shuttle between working for Abramoff and serving as a top staffer for the House enforcer, Rep. Tom DeLay) and the White House. Rudy wrote to Monica Kladakis, deputy associate director in the White House Office of presidential personnel, saying he wanted Stayman fired.

Kladakis reponded: "I have not forgotten about your concern about Alan Stayman — we just have had to work on filling our top positions before focusing on the possibly problematic people.” Rudy was appreciative: “More evidence of your greatness! Thanks.”

Kladakis worked with Matt Schlapp, director of the White House’s Office of Personal Affairs, to "fix" the problem of Stayman, who was indeed fired in July 2001.

Meanwhile, Kladakis was also "trying to figure out the best way to go about it" but didn’t want a "firing scandal on our hands." One way Kldakis went about getting Stayman fired was to let Karl Rove and Stephen Hadley know about the situation. (In the report it’s clear that Rove and Hadley were aware of what happened, but it’s not clear whether or not they had any role in the firing.)

Stayman was let go despite objections from his boss in the State Dept’s of Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs who was, in fact, looking to promote Stayman.

Many of the principles in the Abramoff scandal — from both the lobbying and White House side — had refused to talk to the committee on 5th amendment grounds. So it’s unknown whether the Stayman incident was an isolated one — or a sign of an early purge of Clinton appointees.

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