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Perry responded to the two lawmakers’ letters on Nov. 19, 2002. Perry said the GSA expected that redevelopment of the Old Post Office “will require significant diversity in skills and experience” for those taking on the project, including expertise in such fields as “historic preservation, architecture/design, real estate finance, construction management, estimation, commercial development, residential development and property management.” The GSA’s view was that only “development teams,” not individual organizations, would be able to meet federal standards for the project.
Perry, however, added that there would be “many opportunities for small business concerns which will include HUBZone small business, minority and women-owned business. We anticipate opportunities for small businesses to participate either as development team members or subcontractors to team members.”
A former Abramoff associate said Abramoff wanted to build a hotel on the Old Post Office site, although it is unclear if it would have been entirely paid for by tribal funds. The project, however, never got beyond the planning stage.
LaTourette said on Tuesday that “there were two things that concerned us” when his staff drafted the letters to the GSA — “preference and an advanced look.”
According to LaTourette, the GSA was already giving special preferences and briefings to HUBZone businesses on similar federal projects, so there was no conflict there.
LaTourette said he “assumed” that Volz was acting on behalf of one of his tribal clients at Greenberg Traurig in making the request for a letter to the GSA. “I mean, why else would he come in?” LaTourette asked.
LaTourette later co-sponsored legislation to create a national women’s museum at the Old Post Office site.
Mike Anderson, chief of staff in Young’s personal office, called the Alaska Republican’s letter to the GSA “a coincidence.” Anderson said Young has “no recollection” of how that letter to the GSA came about, although he was adamant that Young cannot recall ever meeting with Abramoff personally.
Anderson said he could not provide records of any meetings between Transportation Committee staff and any Greenberg Traurig lobbyists or tribal representatives.
Anderson denied that Young ever sought to help Abramoff. “There is no relationship between Young and Abramoff,” Anderson said.
Young, however, has an extensive history of acting on behalf of Abramoff’s lobbying clients.
His leadership political action committee, the Midnight Sun PAC, received $7,000 from two of Abramoff’s tribal clients, the Aqua Caliente of California and Mississippi Choctaws, on Oct. 17, 2002, just five weeks after he wrote to Perry.
All together, the Midnight Sun PAC received $12,000 from Abramoff’s tribal clients during the 2001-02 election cycle.
In addition, one of the Alaska Republican’s former aides, Duane Gibson, went to work for Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig several months before Young intervened with the GSA on the Old Post Office site.
Going back to 1997, Young, then chairman of the House Resources Committee, authored legislation to hold a plebiscite in Puerto Rico over the island’s political future. At the time, Abramoff was also lobbying in favor of a Puerto Rican plebiscite.
Young also repeatedly acted to aid the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a group of Pacific Ocean islands controlled by the United States. The CNMI government paid Abramoff $8 million to lobby on its behalf.