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Bush Management and Budget Procurement chief arrested after quitting

John Byrne

David Safavian, who oversees $300 billion of annual federal purchasing as director of the Office of Procurement Policy, has been arrested for three criminal charges relating to obstruction of a federal investigation. He resigned quietly last Friday.

RAW STORY previously reported that ex-gambling lobbyist Safavian had, "quietly advanced the interests of former clients under the cloak of a vocally anti-gambling Utah congressman" Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT). Safavian was Cannon's chief of staff.

The indictment refers to a 2002 trip arranged by Jack Abramoff, a Washington power lobbyist who arranged a trip to Scotland that took powerful House Rep. Bob Ney golfing. Abramoff was joined on the trip by former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed and David Safavian. According to the charges, Safavian "allegedly aided a Washington, D.C., lobbyist in the lobbyist's attempts to acquire GSA-controlled property in and around Washington, D.C."

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GSA refers to the General Services Administration, which oversees employee purchasing and leasing of federal buildings.

Though indictments for criminal misdoings are not uncommon, the physical arrest of an administration official is rare.

The Washington Post revealed last year that the tab for the jet that carried the group to Scotland was paid by the Capital Athletic Foundation, a sham charity run by Abramoff. Safavian said he had paid his own expenses, and that the trip was purely personal.

Safavian was a longtime friend of Abramoff, having been schooled by Abramoff lobbying at Preston Gates. There they worked together on the Mississippi Choctaw tribal account, which brought the firm millions of dollars. Abramoff now stands accused of bilking the Choctaws out of millions of dollars, though Safavian has not been cited in any wrongdoing.

The Justice Department's release (link here) is included below.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CRM

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2005 (202) 514-2008

WWW.USDOJ.GOV TDD (202) 514-1888

FORMER GSA OFFICIAL CHARGED WITH MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS, OBSTRUCTING FEDERAL INVESTIGATION

WASHINGTON, D.C.-A former General Services Administration (GSA) official was arrested on charges of making false statements and obstructing an investigation by the GSA's Office of Inspector General (GSA-OIG), Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division announced today.

David Hossein Safavian was arrested today based on a three-count criminal complaint filed at federal court in Washington, D.C. The complaint charges Safavian with making false statements to a GSA ethics officer and the GSA-OIG, along with obstruction of a GSA-OIG investigation.

The affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint alleges that from May 16, 2002 until January 10, 2004, Safavian served as Chief of Staff at the GSA. During that time he allegedly aided a Washington D.C. lobbyist in the lobbyist's attempts to acquire GSA-controlled property in and around Washington, D.C. In August 2002, this lobbyist allegedly took Safavian and others on a golf trip to Scotland.

The false statement and obstruction of the investigation charges relate to Safavian's statements to a GSA ethics officer and the GSA-OIG that the lobbyist had no business with GSA prior to the August 2002 golf trip. According to the affidavit, Safavian concealed the fact that the lobbyist had business before GSA prior to the August 2002 golf trip, and that Safavian was aiding the lobbyist in his attempts to do business with GSA

Since November 29, 2004, Safavian has served as the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget.

A complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Nathaniel B. Edmonds and Guy D. Singer of the Fraud Section, which is headed by Acting Chief Paul E. Pelletier, and Trial Attorneys Mary K. Butler and M. Kendall Day of the Public Integrity Section, which is headed by Chief Noel L. Hillman. The case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General, the Department of the Interior Office of the Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service.

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Originally published on Monday September 19, 2005.

 


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