Thursday, November 10, 2005

Now that's serious amounts of money being discussed

I'm sure Josh Marshall is all over this story, but given that I haven't written about Jack Abramoff before, it's good to note posterity, and for righties who come here from time to time and say, "What's all the fuss about that?"

Jack Abramoff is a rather shady lobbyist who's connected to Tom DeLay and is (not known to be causally - as of now) assoicated with some mob types involved in a hit in Florida.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 - The lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of a West African nation to arrange a meeting with President Bush and directed his fees to a Maryland company now under federal scrutiny, according to newly disclosed documents.

The African leader, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, met with President Bush in the Oval Office on May 26, 2004, 10 months after Mr. Abramoff made the offer. There has been no evidence in the public record that Mr. Abramoff had any role in organizing the meeting or that he received any money or had a signed contract with Gabon.

White House and State Department officials described Mr. Bush's meeting with President Bongo, whose government is regularly accused by the United States of human rights abuses, as routine. The officials said they knew of no involvement by Mr. Abramoff in the arrangements. Officials at Gabon's embassy in Washington did not respond to written questions.

"This went through normal staffing channels," said Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, who said the meeting was "part of the president's outreach to the continent of Africa."

A document from Mr. Abramoff's files that was released last week by a Senate committee shows that in the summer of 2003 he pushed to sign President Bongo as a client, even offering to travel to Gabon immediately after an August golfing vacation to Scotland "with the congressmen and senators I take there each year."

In the interest of "balance" the Times includes the "They do it too" paragraph:

Billy Carter, President Jimmy Carter's brother, was a registered agent for Libya during his brother's presidency. During the Clinton administration, Anthony Rodham, whose sister, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, was the first lady, acknowledged that he had been offered a six-figure payment by supporters of the president of Paraguay to arrange a meeting with President Bill Clinton.

- the last one being somewhat different form Ahbramoff's involved in here.

Moreover, as folks following this know (and better than I), the Abramoff affair is not a simple case of nepotism or who you know, but it's this byzantine financial system that looks like a money laundering operation to the casual observer, and perhaps the occaisonal expert RICO prosecutor.

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