Gregg Says He’s Not Target of Abramoff Probe

Posted February 4, 2009 at 6:16pm

Although a former top aide to Sen. Judd Gregg (R) allegedly accepted more than $10,000 in gifts from disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and associates, the New Hampshire Senator said Wednesday that he is not a target in the Justice Department’s ongoing probe.

The Associated Press identified Kevin Koonce as the anonymous “Staffer F” described in a plea agreement entered last week by former Abramoff deputy Todd Boulanger.

Koonce, who worked as Gregg’s legislative director from 2002 to 2004 before leaving Capitol Hill, allegedly accepted tickets to baseball and hockey games, as well as meals and drinks at the now-defunct Signature’s restaurant.

In a statement, Gregg, who awaits confirmation to become head of the Commerce Department, did not identify Koonce but acknowledged the investigation.

“[M]y office was contacted regarding a Department of Justice investigation of a former staffer. Prior to this, I was not aware of any improper acts by the former staffer in question. He left my office more than four years ago due to issues completely unrelated to those brought to light by this investigation,” Gregg said.

“In a Department of Justice letter, I have been informed that I am neither a subject nor target of the investigation, and my office welcomes the opportunity to be helpful,” he added.

Gregg’s office declined to provide a copy of the letter, however, referring inquires to the Justice Department.

“My office is fully committed to doing everything possible to aid investigators and will continue to be thoroughly transparent in providing them with any and all information necessary to see this issue through,” he said.

According to Boulanger’s plea agreement, “Staffer F” assisted the lobbyist over a 20-month period beginning in mid-2002. Boulanger, then a lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig, had earlier worked as an aide to then-Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.).

Among the “official actions” that Boulanger sought was assistance in September 2002 with retaining a $3.5 million earmark inserted by House lawmakers into the fiscal 2003 Defense appropriations bill.

Public records maintained by the Senate show only one client, Bethesda, Md.-based Andrulis Corp., represented by Boulanger in 2002 for the explicit purpose of “FY ’03 Defense Authorization and Appropriations bills regarding shipbuilding matters.” But that contract ended in August 2002. Greenberg Traurig reported less than $20,000 in income from that account.

In addition, the plea agreement states that “Staffer F” assisted Boulanger with defeating an amendment in an undated defense appropriations bill. That amendment would have allowed an Alaskan entity to establish a gambling casino, a proposition opposed by Native American tribes represented by Greenberg Traurig.

“Staffer F responded to defendant Boulanger that he would tell his Senator and that his office had the proposed amendment ‘flagged,’” court documents state.

The plea agreement also details a February 2003 e-mail exchange between Boulanger and “Staffer F” about procuring hockey tickets for the Senate aide.

“This is without a doubt the most in-demand game of the season. … You, my friend, are in debt to me for a while!” Boulanger wrote to the aide in a message confirming the tickets.

The aide responded several day later, stating: “Thanks [Boulanger] — You the man. I got something for you too.”

Koonce did not return a telephone message left at Sorini, Samet & Associates, where he is listed as senior director of government affairs. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that he is on leave from his post.