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In at least three instances, court filings point out official actions that were taken in DeLay’s office that benefited Abramoff, his clients or Buckham. The plea deal and the accompanying documents do not mention DeLay by name, calling him “Representative #2.” (Ney is “Representative #1.”)
The Rudy plea deal never specifically alleges that DeLay took actions by himself to benefit the lobbyists, but several significant actions were taken that would be difficult for a staffer to orchestrate on his own, according to lawyers and aides familiar with Congressional operations.
In particular, Rudy pleaded guilty to working with “others” in 2000 to get appropriations for a key Abramoff client, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands — money that had been sought by Abramoff and Buckham. (Buckham was also not specifically named and instead was euphemistically referred to as “Lobbyist B”.)
Rudy had already worked with Scanlon, Abramoff and Buckham to line up staffers to travel to the CNMI in January 2000, including some on Ney’s staff. And in the spring of 2000, according to the plea deal, Rudy “obtained a letter” from DeLay opposing a postal rate increase that was being fought by the Magazine Publishers of America, an Abramoff client.
The publishers, along with Abramoff’s longest retained client, the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, funneled $50,000 to Rudy’s wife’s firm, Liberty Consulting — a deal that, according to Rudy’s plea agreement, was orchestrated by Abramoff and Buckham.
After leaving DeLay’s payroll at the end of 2000, Rudy joined Abramoff at his new firm, Greenberg Traurig, and, according to the plea deal, immediately began breaking the one-year ban on lobbying DeLay’s office. His first action, the agreement says, was to secure DeLay’s support for legislation for reparations payments. On March 22, 2001, DeLay signed on as the lead GOP co-sponsor of a bill to allow prisoners of war held by the Japanese during World War II to use federal courts to seek “compensation” from Japanese businesses in the United States “in connection with labor performed in Japan to the benefit of the Japanese nationals,” according the bill language.
The author of the bill was Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a longtime friend of Abramoff who has continued supporting him throughout the investigation and even wrote a letter to a federal judge last month seeking leniency for Abramoff’s prison sentence.
Cullen declined to address the specifics of the allegations emerging from the Rudy plea agreement. But he said generally that DeLay either had no idea what Rudy and Scanlon were doing or that all of the actions he took comported with his long-held conservative views and were not the result of any influence-peddling by Abramoff or his ex-staffers.
“There’s no allegation that Mr. DeLay did anything for an improper reason,” Cullen said.
Another potentially critical element to the Abramoff and Rudy pleas, as related to DeLay, is that their criminal conspiracies begin in 1997 — just as DeLay and Abramoff’s professional relationship went global.
In August 1997, Abramoff took DeLay on a trip to Moscow, where he met with energy officials there. And in December 1997, Abramoff took DeLay and his family to the CNMI, where the lawmaker met with Abramoff’s clients and called him a close friend.