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Guilty Plea Shines Light on Illicit Gifts

“The Justice Department has advised that its request arises from the belief that Senator Bond himself was an innocent victim on potentially improper conduct by lobbyists and former staff,” the memo states.

Blackann, now a lobbyist for the Dairy Farmers of America, is the 15th individual named by the Justice Department in the long-running investigation surrounding Abramoff, and each of those named has either pleaded guilty or is currently awaiting trial.

Blackann, who worked for Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) before moving to the Senate, is married to Laura Blackann, a one-time spokeswoman to Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), who has also been haunted by his relationship with Abramoff and will retire at the close of the 110th Congress.

FBI agents raided Doolittle’s Virginia home in April 2007, and he and his aides have testified before a grand jury. One former top aide who joined Abramoff’s lobbying team was indicted in September for providing gifts to Members of Congress in exchange for actions they took to benefit Abramoff clients.

Paul Singer contributed to this report.

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