Accused of atrocities? No prob: meet w Pres Bush for $9 mil

[quote]WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 - The lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of a West African nation to arrange a meeting with President Bush and directed his fees to a Maryland company now under federal scrutiny, according to newly disclosed documents. The African leader, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, met with President Bush in the Oval Office on May 26, 2004, 10 months after Mr. Abramoff made the offer. . .

A document from Mr. Abramoff’s files that was released last week by a Senate committee shows that in the summer of 2003 he pushed to sign President Bongo as a client, even offering to travel to Gabon immediately after an August golfing vacation to Scotland “with the congressmen and senators I take there each year.”

. . . Mr. Abramoff, a Republican fund-raiser who once was one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, has been indicted in Florida on federal fraud charges. He is also under investigation by a federal grand jury in Washington and two Senate committees.

The grand jury inquiry initially centered on accusations that Mr. Abramoff had defrauded a group of Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees connected to their gambling operations, including steep fees for work that was never performed. But federal law enforcement officials say that inquiry has broadened, with prosecutors examining other issues, including . . . consulting firms and charities he controlled. . . whether he used them to hide income to avoid paying taxes and to evade disclosure rules for lobbyists. . . .

In a draft agreement with Gabon dated Aug. 7, 2003, Mr. Abramoff and his associates asked that $9 million in lobbying fees be paid through wire transfers . . . The agreement promised a “public relations effort related to promoting Gabon and securing a visit for President Bongo with the president of the United States.”

. . . When he first approached Gabon, Mr. Abramoff was not new to issues involving West Africa. He had been a Washington lobbyist for President Mobutu Sese Seko, the repressive leader of neighboring Congo, called Zaire at the time. He also had connections to Gabon through a former business partner, David Safavian, who was a registered agent in Washington for President Bongo. Mr. Safavian, a former White House budget official, was arrested in September on charges of lying about his ties to Mr. Abramoff. . .[/quote]

My guess is that the effort to fully Republicanize Gucci Gulf is going to backfire big time for Rove and the GOP. After all, it’s hard to deny ownership of a problem when it’s not only happened on your watch but also at your behest.