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Boehner’s Panama Connections

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“The minister arranged the CODEL through official channels,” Holt said. “He communicated with Boehner’s chief of staff at the time, Paula” Nowakowski.

Nowakowsi traveled to Panama with the CODEL in December, but she died suddenly in January of a heart attack at age 46.

Holt said neither he nor Kolton was in Panama at the time of the CODEL.

But Jackson was.

Jackson served as Boehner’s chief of staff in the late 1990s before joining the White House of President George W. Bush, where he was a top aide to political adviser Karl Rove. Jackson left the White House at the end of the Bush administration and, according to his most recent financial disclosure form, worked as a consultant for the Bristol, Va., mining and natural resources firm United Co., as well as a few other part-time jobs.

A Republican leadership aide confirmed that Jackson was in Panama at the time of the CODEL and met socially with Boehner during the trip.

“He was in Panama on a personal trip prior to the arrival of the CODEL and was still in Panama after the CODEL left. He did not participate in any official CODEL meetings.”

The Panamanian newspaper La Prensa quoted Papadimitriu this spring as saying that Jackson came to Panama only as a friend, was not paid to be there and did not influence Panamanian foreign policy.

Days after Nowakowski’s death, Jackson returned to Boehner’s payroll as his chief of staff.

The Republican leadership aide said the December CODEL was originally scheduled to include both Panama and Colombia — “the two countries we then had pending free-trade agreements with” — but the Colombia portion was canceled because of a schedule conflict.

Shortly before the trip, Boehner and other GOP leaders met with President Barack Obama and urged him to take quick action to pass free-trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea, and they followed up with a letter making the same point.

Other Members traveling on Boehner’s CODEL were Republican Reps. Kevin Brady (Texas), David Dreier (Calif.), Devin Nunes (Calif.), Peter Roskam (Ill.) and Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) as well as Foreign Affairs ranking member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

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