Former Abramoff lobbyist Kevin Ring is on trial in, perhaps, the most interesting corruption trial in Washington in quite some time. Neil Volz, another Abramoff crony and former staffer to Rep. Bob Ney, testified the other day and included tons of gory details:
Volz described his lobbying team’s practice of giving tickets, meals and drinks to public officials and staffers who were deemed valuable, as well as taking those individuals on trips.
“Really we just wanted to party,” Volz said about a trip he took to New Orleans with Ney, former Ney chief of staff Will Heaton, and other lobbyists. He said the group met a client and toured some homes, but those were not the main objectives of the trip, which he described as “part of the corrupt relationship” he had with Ney and his staffers.
Volz described a discussion he had with Ring about “getting the joke,” a term used for a lobbyist getting a staffer to prioritize an issue because the lobbyist is “taking care of them,” after the Abramoff scandal began to surface in 2004.
“We thought, ‘Boy, it would be pretty difficult to defend the idea of getting the joke,'” he said of his conversation with Ring.
Over the weekend, the New York Times posted this great visualization of Clean Water Act violations and the lack of enforcement in all 50 states. One of the primary reasons why government data needs to be online and in accessible formats is for news organizations, designers and coders to create visualizations or databases that can concisely explain an issue, or reveal a problem, to the public at large.