Politico looks at health care lobbyists-turned-staffers on the Senate Finance Committee with the aid of LittleSis. For a look at... View ArticleContinue reading
And Cue Those Denials:
The three congressmen that Neil Volz said he and Jack Abramoff worked with issued their expected denials. The congressmen, Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Steve LaTourette (R-OH), and Don Young (R-AK), issued statements through spokesmen. Only LaTourette and Capito responded (Young's spokesman said that the congressman was unaware of Volz's testimony):
Deborah Setliff, communications director for LaTourette, said, "The congressman is the former chairman of the Transportation Committee's Public Buildings Subcommittee. About four years ago, Chairman LaTourette and Chairman Young signed a letter to the GSA encouraging hub-zone business participation in the redevelopment of the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C. Hub-zone businesses, a type of disadvantaged small business, are routinely included in large GSA projects. The congressman supported small, disadvantaged businesses then and still does today, and the policy is good regardless of who is pushing it. He has never supported turning the Old Post Office building into a hotel and supports legislation making it a women's history museum." "Representative Capito had absolutely no knowledge of the phone call that purportedly took place between her former chief of staff and Mr. Volz, " said her spokesman Jordan Stoick. "She was not aware of any contact with GSA, nor has she ever consented to her name being used in any way to assist in obtaining information from GSA on this matter."Continue reading
A Picture Can Say A Thousand Words:
This photograph is an absolute career killer. (Appearing in the picture are Neil Volz and Ralph Reed on the left, Bob Ney and David Safavian in the middle, and Jack Abramoff on the right.)
Jack Abramoff developed contacts with high-level officials in government whom he referred to as "champions", according to Neil Volz, the former chief of staff to Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) who testified against David Safavian, a former "champion". Volz, who left Ney's office to work for Abramoff and recently pled guilty to a number of charges, also provided details of the attempted purchases of the Old Post Office Building and land in Maryland. In those details the case against Bob Ney begins to unfold:
Safavian, who formerly worked with Abramoff, arrived at GSA as chief of staff in May 2002. He and Abramoff began e-mailing each other about two properties controlled by the GSA. One was land in White Oak, in Montgomery County, where Abramoff hoped to relocate a Jewish academy he founded. On advice from Safavian, Volz said, the lobbyists first tried to insert language in an election reform bill. "We had a champion in the Congress who had already agreed to attach another provision," Volz testified, identifying the lawmaker as "Congressman Ney." Ney had agreed to try to add language to the same bill that would have aided a Texas Indian tribe represented by Abramoff. When that did not work, Volz said, Ney told him of another "potential vehicle" on the legislative agenda, a line of questioning U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman cut off as "hearsay" evidence. Volz sought help in receiving information on the land from GSA through an inquiry by the chief of staff to Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), but backed off when the GSA asked Capito's office why she wanted the information. The second property Abramoff sought was the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Abramoff, with a tribal client, wanted to convert it into a luxury hotel and sought to have GSA tailor the bid specifications to the advantage of the tribe. "We were trying to rig the rule so our client could get the best chance," Volz said. He and Williams solicited letters to GSA from Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio), though in the end their efforts were not "the golden plan we were hoping for," Volz said. Nonetheless, he said, Safavian "concurred with my advice that it was better to have the letter from the Hill before the bid was set."The prize for being an Abramoff "champion" looks pretty bad. I mean who wants to win a federal investigation of your activities by an aggressive Public Integrity Unit. That's a bad prize. Continue reading
It’s Not Rude to Point Fingers in a Court Room:
Neil Volz brought out his pointer finger today as he testified at the tiral of David Safavian. According to the Associated Press, Volz stated that he "received assistance from several Republican congressmen including, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio." Denials of wrong doing by spokesmen for the four congressmen are forthcoming. "The congressman did not have a legislative relationship with that lobbyist!"Continue reading
Volz Testimony to Shine Light on Rep. Ney:
Neil Volz, the former chief of staff to Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), is set to testify in the trial of former White House official David Safavian. Volz, who pled guilty to conspiring to give illegal gifts and to breaking the one-year lobbying ban rule, will "describe how Mr. Abramoff organized a $130,000 golf trip to Scotland by private jet in August 2002 for a group that included Mr. Ney and three House aides." Two of the aides who went on the trip have been subpoenaed, although one of them is refusing to testify citing Fifth Amendment concerns.Continue reading
Ex-Ney Staffer to Testify Against Bush Administration Official:
The Associated Press is reporting that Neil Volz, the former chief of staff to Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), is planning to testify in the corruption case of ex-government procurement official and Jack Abramoff buddy David Safavian. Volz will testify that Safavian suggested the inclusion of "language into legislation that would have conveyed to Abramoff some GSA-controlled property in Maryland". Safavian stand accused of "concealing from GSA investigators and a Senate committee his involvement with Abramoff's efforts to acquire GSA-controlled property."Continue reading
- Roll Call reports that the Justice Department has broken new ground by charging former congressional staffers-turned-lobbyists Tony Rudy and Neil Volz with violating the one-year ban on lobbying their former employers.
- The Los Angeles Times provides more information on the close relationship between former OMB and GSA employee David Safavian and criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff. We are also reminded, through Safavian's emails, that Safavian never stops kissing up to Abramoff ("Let me know if there is ANYTHING I can do to help.")
- The Hill reports that 40 percent of earmarks would go unmarked and unnoticed thanks to loopholes in the lobbying and ethics "reform" bills passed by the Senate and the House.
- Top Bush donor Tom Noe wants to change his "not guilty" plea to a "guilty" plea in a case where he is charged with illegally funnelling money to the President's campaign, according to the Associated Press.
- The Washington Times interviews anti-pork crusader Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). Continue reading
The Washington Post article on former Bob Ney chief of staff Neil Volz's guilty plea has some key information:
Volz, who has been talking to prosecutors for three months, is providing information on other lawmakers and staff, according to a source close to the ongoing investigation.Emphasis added. So who else could Volz be dishing on? Brad Friedman at The Brad Blog has an idea. Continue reading
Volz Factual Proffer
Oy Ney! If you're a congressman you don't want to read something like this on a Monday. Here's a link to the Neil Volz Factual Proffer (courtesy TPM Document Collection), which provides an incredibly detailed account of what Abramoff, Scanlon, and company provided to Bob Ney (R-OH) in exchange for favorable action and legislation. If I were Bob Ney I could only feel that this is the Worst. Monday. Ever.Continue reading