The dirt keeps piling up for ex-DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Buckham got Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) to insert a $1.55 million earmark for the Florida Institute of Technology which then turned around and signed a lobbying client and business partner of Buckham to do the work.
With the assistance of Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), a DeLay political ally, Buckham had $1.55 million set aside in late 2003 in a federal appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Labor to fund a program for small businesses. The money was awarded to the Florida Institute of Technology, which promptly signed a contract with Map Roi Inc., a client and partner of lobbyist Buckham. At the time, Buckham's lobby company, Alexander Strategy Group, held options on 500,000 shares of Map Roi stock, records show.Map Roi, a Guam-based company, enjoyed success after securing the FIT contract attracting $3 million from a group of venture capital firms. Buckham had encountered Map Roi through his dealings with Jack Abramoff in Guam. The FIT earmark was not the only one sought by Map Roi. There was an effort to obtain $20 million in earmarks from the federal government that strikes current Abramoff lightening rod Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT):
In a May 13, 2003, speech to Guam legislators and other officials, Gutierrez's successor as governor of Guam, Felix P. Camacho, said that a $20-million pact with Map Roi was in the works. In the speech, he credited Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) with pushing for the appropriation. A Burns spokesman said the project was never funded.Continue reading
According to the Guam Pacific Daily News:
Former Sen. Mark Charfauros, D-Agat, said he got lobbyist and friend Jack Abramoff involved in his battle with former Gov. Carl Gutierrez in 1998 because he wanted more federal attention brought to his concerns about the Gutierrez administration.
Charfauros yesterday told the Pacific Daily News that complaints by him and others to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about Gutierrez weren't getting anywhere at the time, so he asked Abramoff for help. Abramoff is a friend, he said, and stayed at Charfauros' home when he visited Guam.
Charfauros sent a letter to DeLay on Oct. 28, 1998, according to Pacific Daily News files, and DeLay the same day sent the letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Interior, calling for a formal investigation into alleged mismanagement of federal money under the Gutierrez administration.
A few days prior to the election Charfauros bought a one-page advertisement in the PDN to publish the letter from DeLay sent to the Department of Interior. Abramoff also may have attempted to affect the 2002 gubernatorial race according to allegations made by then-gubernatorial candidate Robert Underwood:
Underwood has said direct mailers printed out of a stateside business owned by a lobbying client of Abramoff undermined his first run for governor. The direct mailers, sent to about 25,000 members of Guam's Filipino community, had painted Underwood as being allegedly biased against Filipinos, a charge Underwood has said is untrue.
One clue to the possible Abramoff connection, Underwood explained, was a fax cover letter from Preston Gates, the lobby shop where Abramoff had worked for during the Guam gubernatorial campaign season in 2002.
Underwood claimed that Abramoff stuck his neck out in this election because he did not want to lose a lobbying client in Underwood’s opponent, current Gov. Felix Camacho.Continue reading
Two Senate Democrats, Jeff Bingaman (NM) and Ken Salazar (CO), wrote a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asking him to appoint a special prosecutor to “investigate lobbyist Jack Abramoff's activities in two Pacific island territories,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The Senator’s concern revolves around a Justice Department report that highlights security risks posed by immigration from the Northern Marianas Islands and Guam. Abramoff “bragged in a 2001 e-mail to his clients in Saipan that he would use his connections in the attorney general's office to block the anticipated report lest it fuel congressional efforts to place new immigration restrictions on the Northern Marianas.” The letter also asks for the special prosecutor to probe “Abramoff's role in the demotion of Frederick Black, the former acting U.S. attorney for the two Pacific island territories,” who was demoted in the midst of an investigation into Abramoff’s activity.Continue reading