Sunday, August 28, 2005

Well yes, it is a federal crime

It looks like Tom DeLay's buddy Jack Abramoff had a little help from his friends - the ones at the Department of the Interior, that is. Abramoff sent emails in 2002 claiming that J. Steven Griles, had vowed to block an Indian Casino that would compete with Abramoff's tribal clients.

Abramoff told associates that he believed Griles was "committed" to blocking an effort by the Gun Lake Indian tribe to build a casino near Grand Rapids, Mich., according to the content of e-mail messages reviewed by The Washington Post. Abramoff said the blocking would involve an environmental challenge to the project, a tactic also proposed by Michigan business leaders opposed to the casino. Abramoff fought the project because it would draw business from a casino operated by his clients, the Saginaw Chippewas.

Environmental concerns ended up delaying action on the Gun Lake casino. The project was cleared last May by the Interior Department.

Gun Lake was not the only casino that Abramoff tried to derail through his departmental contacts. The Post has reported on e-mails indicating the lobbyist enlisted Griles to stop a Louisiana tribe's proposed casino, which threatened another Abramoff client. [WaPo]

At the same time, Abramoff's firm, Greenberg Traurig LLP was in negotiations to hire a guy named J. Steven Griles who just happened to work as Deputy Secretary of the Interior at the time. [emphasis added]

A federal task force investigating Abramoff's activities has conducted interviews and obtained documents from Interior Department officials and Abramoff associates to determine whether conflict-of-interest laws were violated, according to people with knowledge of the probe. It can be a federal crime for government officials to negotiate for a job while being involved in decisions affecting the potential employer.
Really? Someone ought to tell SCotUS nominee John Roberts about those conflict of interest laws. Oh wait he knew, he must have just forgotten he was involved in the Hamdan case at the time - it's not as though guys like Cheney, Gonzales, Card or Rove would have had any interest in the case or brought it up or anything.

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