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White House expected to supply new emails in bribery probe
John Byrne
Published: Thursday September 13, 2007


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Fallen lobbyist haunts Administration

Investigators have asked the White House for more emails.

According to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) expects to receive emails and other documents from the White House regarding the Jack Abramoff bribery scandal in the next few days.

Abramoff pled guilty to wire fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in January 2006. Those officials included Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), an Ohio Congressman who is now serving 30 months in jail, and David Safavian, former erstwhile head of Bush's General Service Administration, a $300 billion agency which doles out government contracts.

A month later, a photograph of Abramoff appearing with President Bush appeared in The New York Times. White House officials have long sought to distance themselves from Abramoff, despite a personal friendship between Rove and the onetime lobbyist that dates from their days as College Republicans.

Another photograph of Bush and Abramoff (above) surfaced in January 2007.

Waxman requested documents regarding Abramoff from the White House earlier this year. His staff declined to provide information about what exactly he is seeking.

"The result of that document production is likely to determine the next steps for the Oversight Committee, said sources familiar with the investigation," the paper said.

The Committee deposed Karl Rove's former assistant, Susan Ralston, in May. Prior to her White House post, Ralston was an assistant to Abramoff, and her email messages while among Abramoff's staff were acquired during the course of a Senate inquiry. She was not charged with any wrongdoing, and left the White House in October 2005.

In her testimony, Ralston revealed that Rove had used his private Republican National Committee email account -- instead of the White House email system which keeps copies of correspondence -- "from day one."

Q: When did Karl Rove first start usng his RNC e-mail account to send and receive e-mails from the White House?

A: From day one.

[]

Q: For how long did Mr. Rove continue to use his political e-mail account to send e-mails from the White House?

A: The entire time that I worked for hm.

"According to sources familiar with the investigation, the committee sent out a flurry of letters over the summer to figures in the Abramoff affair including people who had worked with him at Greenberg Traurig asking them to meet with the committee to discuss the lobbyists contacts with the White House," Roll Call's Paul Singer writes. "Sources said Waxman had few takers, in part because the Justice Department is continuing its investigation of the Abramoff matter, and there is little incentive for anyone involved to volunteer to talk to the Oversight Committee at this point."

Waxman also requested e-mails and other documents from the White House relating to Abramoff, which are expected to be delivered to the committee in the next few days, though Waxmans staff declined to provide details of what he is seeking.

On Wednesday, Neil Volz, a cooperating witness in the investigation of superlobbyist Jack Abramoff and his attempts to bribe members of Congress and government officials, was sentenced to two years probation and a $2,000 fine for his role in helping bribe Ohio Republican congressman Bob Ney.

Ney is serving 30 months in prison.

A Justice Department investigation into Abramoff and the Washington bribery scandal continues.

Roll Call's full (registration-restricted) article here.