The Justice Department unsealed a ten-count indictment today against Kevin Ring, a lobbyist and former staffer to Rep. John Doolittle, in the on-going Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. According to a Department of Justice statement, Ring is charged “with conspiring with Abramoff and others to corrupt congressional and executive-branch officials by providing things of value to several public officials to induce or reward those who took official actions benefiting Ring and his clients.”
The statement also includes two unnamed congressmen, Representative 4 and Representative 5. Ring is alleged to have engaged in illegal conduct with the chief of staff to Representative 4, who is not identified as being either a current or former member of Congress. Previous indictments identify Representative 4 as former Rep. Ernie Istook. His chief of staff pleaded guilty earlier this year.
Representative 5, while not appearing in previous indictments, is readily identifiable. Ring is alleged to have lied about his knowledge of employment opportunities provided to the wife of Representative 5 by Abramoff. Only one sitting member of Congress fits this bill, and that is Ring’s former boss, Rep. John Doolittle.
One line in the statement possibly explains where this investigation is going next:
Ring and his coconspirators allegedly understood that the public officials to whom they provided things of value were failing to report those gifts as required and were filling out false financial disclosure forms, because to fill out the forms truthfully would reveal that they had accepted gifts in violation of ethical rules and federal law.
Looks as though investigators are going the Ted Stevens route in pursuing Tom DeLay (Representative 2), Tom Feeney (Representative 3), Ernie Istook (Representative 4), and John Doolittle (Representative 5).