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Guam envoy to Congress calls for Abramoff investigation

John Byrne

The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, joined by Guam's Democratic representative to the United States House of Representatives issued a call to the Justice Department to investigate the demotion of a prosecutor who was investigating Bush fundraiser and megalobbyist Jack Abramoff, RAW STORY has learned.

Judiciary Democrat John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam's non-voting delegate to the U.S. Congress, called on the Department's Inspector General to "conduct an investigation into the November 2002 demotion of former Acting United States Attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Frederick A. Black."

"We are troubled by an August 7, 2005, report in the Los Angeles Times that suggests this demotion was politically motivated," the members write.

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A recent report in the Los Angeles Times suggested Black was demoted because he was investigating Abramoff, whose lobbying tied him to major Republicans in Congress as well as President Bush. Such an investigation could have been a major liability for Bush, and might have brought to light a web of other scandals that are now being investigated by the Senate, the FBI, and the Justice Department.

Black was an aggressive prosecutor, ferreting out corruption in the Guam government. He was replaced with a prosecutor with a lighter hand, possibly at the behest of Bush adviser Karl Rove.

The letter was copied to House Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Assistant U.S. Attorney General William E. Moschella. It follows.

#

August 23, 2005

Honorable Glenn A. Fine
Inspector General

United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 4322
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Inspector General Fine:

We write to request that the Office of the Inspector General conduct an investigation into the November 2002 demotion of former Acting United States Attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Frederick A. Black. We are troubled by an August 7, 2005, report in the Los Angeles Times that suggests this demotion was politically motivated (enclosed).1

At the time U.S. Attorney Black was demoted, he was supervising a grand jury investigation into the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff and conducting an ongoing investigation into possible corruption within the Government of Guam. U.S. Attorney Black had been serving as the Acting United States Attorney for more than 10 years when he was demoted. The timing of President Bush's decision to remove and replace U.S. Attorney Black is questionable and warrants an investigation.

The Los Angeles Times reports that in 2002, lobbyist Jack Abramoff entered into a secret agreement with Guam Superior Court officials to lobby against a court revision bill then pending in the United States Congress. For his lobbying efforts, Mr. Abramoff was reportedly paid with thirty-six $9,000 checks funneled through a Laguna Beach lawyer to disguise the lobbyist's role in working for the Guam Superior Court. These transactions were the target of a federal grand jury subpoena issued on November 18, 2002, which required the Guam Superior Court Administrative Director to release records involving the lobbying contract. It was on November 19, 2002, that President Bush announced he was demoting U.S. Attorney Black. The federal grand jury took no further action in the Abramoff investigation.

The Los Angeles Times also reports that at the time U.S. Attorney Black was demoted, he was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the Government of Guam. This inquiry produced numerous indictments, including some of the top officials in the government. The Los Angeles Times reports that an extensive effort by lobbyists connected to the Government of Guam is responsible for U.S. Attorney Black's demotion. In May 2003, U.S. Attorney Black was replaced by Leonardo Rapadas who had been recommended by the Republican Party of Guam. Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist, said he carried that recommendation to Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff, in early 2003. Since taking office, U.S. Attorney Rapadas has excused himself from the ongoing public corruption case involving the Government of Guam because he is the cousin of one of the key targets of the investigation.

Again, we are troubled by the circumstances that surround the demotion of former Acting U.S. Attorney Black and request than an investigation be conducted. The Department of Justice should be concerned that a federal prosecutor was possibly removed from his position as a result of lobbying efforts by those he was investigating for public corruption. We appreciate your prompt consideration of this matter. Please reply through the Judiciary Committee Democratic office, 2142 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 (tel:202-225-6504; fax: 202-225-4423).

Sincerely,

John Conyers, Jr.
Member of Congress

Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Member of Congress

cc: Hon. William E. Moschella
Assistant Attorney General

Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Chairman, U.S. House Comm. on the Judiciary

Originally published on Tuesday August 23, 2005.

 


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