House Panel Approves Abramoff Report
After little debate and few corrections, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform this afternoon approved a 33-page report documenting the ties between disgraced uberlobbyist Jack Abramoff and the White House.
The committee, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has pressed for two years to determine the links between White House officials and Abramoff. The Justice Department's criminal case against the lobbyist has not focused on the White House but on Abramoff's influence in Congress and federal agencies.
Abramoff pleaded guilty in 2006 to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in a deal that requires him to provide cooperate with the ongoing Justice investigation into corruption.
Today, a federal judge scheduled Abramoff's sentencing in that case for Sept. 4 in U.S. District Court.
Tucked inside the Waxman committee's report are depositions from a handful of former Bush officials showing the level of involvement between Abramoff's lobbying team and senior aides.
As has been previously reported, one of the most interesting findings is Abramoff's role in persuading Bush officials to remove Alan Stayman from the State Department position overseeing the relationship with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a major client of Abramoff and his firm, Greenberg Traurig.
In an April 14 deposition by Monica V. Kladakis, the former deputy associate director in the White House's Office of Presidential Personnel, described how she worked with Tony Rudy, a former Abramoff associate who also has pleaded guilty, to remove Stayman from his post.
At one point, White House public affairs director Matt Schlapp wrote, "how do we fix this?" Kladakis replied, "I think we can do something about it, but . . . I don't want a firing scandal on our hands."
She identified Douglas G. Fehrer, a former White House personnel director, as the man who helped her with the Styman problem.
She wrote to Schlapp in early June 2001: "I just got off the phone with Doug -- he's got a couple of things to look into for me but it looks good."
Stayman's State Department position was not extended past the end of the month.
In her testimony, Kladakis said Fehrer was known as a "friendly person" who Bush officials could "call to help us understand the ins and outs."
"We were all new in the administration in terms of personnel, and he had been in the personnel world for a long time, so he could tell us what the rules were, what the options were in terms of dealing with personnel matters, be it civil service, be it political, be it term appointments," Kladakis said.
Their professional relationship apparently carried over to another government agency: Fehrer took a job as the director of human resources at the Millennium Challenge Corp., a Bush initiative to increase development assistance to some poor nations, in 2004. A year later, Klakidis was hired as one of the group's managing directors.
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