In Broad Daylight: Abram-Offed

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How Alan Stayman got Abram-offed from his gig at State; Dodd and Conrad continue beating over Countrywide loans; jailing Arizona; and McConnell gets earmark religion.

When Jack Abramoff needed someone to get out of the way he knew where to pull the strings. Alan Stayman, a negotiator at the State Department, favored labor restrictions on the Marianas Islands, a U.S. protectorate, which brought the wrath of Marianas Islands lobbyist Abramoff. All Abramoff and his cronies had to do was call up their buddies in the White House. Executive assistant to Karl Rove, Susan Ralston, a former assistant to Abramoff; White House political director Ken Mehlmen, a frequent guest at Abramoff’s Shabbat dinners; and deputy White House personnel chief Monica Kladakis, who worked with Abramoff underling Tony Rudy in Congress. E-mails revealed that all three of these staffers, along with Karl Rove, were instrumental in removing Stayman, the chief obstacle to the continued operation of slave labor in the Marianas.

Lawmakers in Congress are running to distance themselves from Countrywide loans after the revelation of a VIP program that both Sens. Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad were party to. Last year, nine lawmakers reported loans from Countrywide. It should be duly noted that Chris Dodd did not list a loan from Countrywide on his personal financial disclosure, highlighting the lack of transparency in the reporting process. The Center for Responsive Politics is also out with a report on campaign contributions from the embattled lending giant.

Indicted Rep. Rick Renzi’s partner in crime James Sandlin was found guilty on fasle statement charges by a federal grand jury. Sandlin faces up to 30 years in prison unless he cooperates by providing information and testimony against Renzi. The Justice Department finds it highly unlikely that Sandlin would not cooperate.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is calling a GOP Conference meeting to discuss earmark reforms. McConnell was previously criticized for not taking a hard line on earmarks.

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