Another Ex-Abramoff Aide Charged
It once appeared that despite his unseemly role in the bribery scandal surrounding disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Todd Boulanger had weathered the proverbial storm.
Politico noted this year that Boulanger, the former vice president of Cassidy & Associates, a Washington lobbying firm, "has proven his nattily attired, outside-the-box staying power."
But the November guilty plea of a former associate quickly changed all of that.
Boulanger, a former aide to former Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.) and a longtime Abramoff associate, was charged yesterday with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors say Boulanger, while working for Abramoff, plied government officials with gifts, including sporting and concert tickets, meals and all-expense paid trips, in exchange for political favors.
It was a startling fall for a man once described as one of Washington's most fashionable and one of the nation's top 50 lobbyists to watch.
Boulanger was a close friend of a fellow congressional aide, 34-year-old Trevor Blackann, who pleaded guilty in November to filing a false tax return that was missing $4,100 in illegal gifts from lobbyists. Blackann, an aide to Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), accepted gifts from Abramoff, including a trip to New York to see a World Series baseball game and "admission to and entertainment at" a strip club, according to court documents.
In Blackann's guilty plea, Boulanger was referenced as "Lobbyist D," a friend who worked with Blackann and attended some of the illegal outings. Another former congressional aide-turned-lobbyist, James Hirni, admitted that he and Boulanger sought an amendment encouraging state public works agencies to rent, rather than purchase, construction equipment only from companies that had "large dollar amounts of liability insurance coverage." The pair wanted to have the amendment inserted into the federal highway-funding bill.
Hinri pleaded guilty in December to one count of honest services fraud in federal court.
Boulanger resigned his position from a prominent Washington lobbying firm a day after the plea became public.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Boulanger's attorney said his client "regrets this situation and is accepting responsibility for certain past conduct," adding that Boulanger is cooperating with the Justice Department investigation.
Boulanger's plea is part of a lengthy, ongoing investigation into the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff. The 49-year-old Abramoff was sentenced in September to two years in prison for charges in the case. Abramoff, who is cooperating with authorities, is also serving a nearly six-year sentence in federal prison in Cumberland, Md., for fraud in his purchase of a Florida casino cruise line. He is in the second year of that sentence and will likely be in prison until 2012.
By Derek Kravitz |
January 29, 2009; 6:37 PM ET
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