Abramoff ‘Point of Information’ for White House
Remember Jack Abramoff? Maybe the only person newspapers took to start calling a "super lobbyist?" Abramoff is in jail today, convicted for conspiracy to bribe public officials, tax evasion and defrauding a bank to buy a Florida casino cruise line. He’s most notorious for rampant influence peddling in the Republican Party, buying meals and gifts for disgraced former lawmakers like Tom DeLay (R-Tx.) and Bob Ney (R-Oh.). But the extent of his influence in the White House is not fully known.
Today some new information has come out, thanks to a report by the House Oversight committee. The 33-page report finds that Abramoff was "a point of information," in the White House– meaning someone the administration turned to for advice — according to then-White House director of public affairs, Matt Schlapp. Even Abramoff’s associates were considered strong advisers — Schalpp describes an Abramoff colleague, Tony Rudy, as "somebody I had great professional trust in, whose opinion I respected."
The report also finds that Abramoff successfully called for the firing of State Dept. official Alan Stayman, who was pushing for reform in the Northern Marianas Islands that Abramoff opposed. Both Karl Rove, the White House’s former political director, and Stephen Hadley, the National Security Advisor, knew about Abramoff’s role in the dismissal.
The Washington Independent will have more details soon on the Abramoff report, which was approved by committee chairman Henry A. Waxman and top minority member Tom Davis (R-Va.). It’s not clear how much Abramoff shaped White House policy. What is clear, though, is that Abramoff attended the White House Hannukah Party. The committee says it has a picture of it. (If we get it, we’ll put it up right away.)