Wednesday, July 06, 2005

More on Abramoff the Outrageous

Every new article I read about Jack Abramoff and his schemes makes my skin crawl just a little bit more. This guy really has no shame. Today, Glen Justice has a spectacularly detailed look at Abramoff's D.C. restaurant, Signatures: "the place to be" for many leading politicians who are now doing everything they can to distance themselves from the place and its owner.

The Times obtained a customer list from Signatures, which indicates specific guests who were to have their meals free, being rated with "FOO Comp" ("friend of owner") or "A-Comp" (associate of owner) labels. Justice quotes Signatures employees as saying "'Often, guests dined with Mr. Abramoff and did not receive a check' ... though Congressional rules prohibit lawmakers from receiving expensive gifts, including food."

Justice's article contains employee accounts of various high-ranking Congressional officials dining (sometimes often) at Signatures, and many details of how Abramoff's activities at the restaurant are now coming into play in a federal grand jury investigation of the lobbyist on charges of fraud. More on that here.

Also in the Times today, Philip Shenon reports that the chairman and ranking member of the House Resources committee, Republican Richard Pombo and Democrat Nick Rahall, have asked the Justice Department to widen their inquiry into Abramoff's activities. Shenon writes that in a letter dated June 30, the two representatives cite "a flurry of accusations of wrongdoing involving Mr. Abramoff's multimillion-dollar lobbying on behalf of the Northern Mariana Islands, a small American commonwealth in the Pacific, and said that 'any allegations of criminal matters of this sort are best addressed to the Department of Justice.'"

The Times calls this letter "the first known request by a Congressional committee for prosecutors to review accusations of criminal conduct in the lobbying activities of Mr. Abramoff."

I think we're going to find out quite a lot more about Jack Abramoff before too much longer ... and if that's not making Tom DeLay and some other House officials more than a little worried, I'll be very surprised indeed.


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