A window into the Abramoff investigation?

The Justice Department has pulled financial reports on nine members of Congress. Roll Call names names.


Tim Grieve
March 13, 2006 10:00PM (UTC)

If you're into reading tea leaves from the Jack Abramoff investigation, Roll Call has a report worth considering today: Between June and October of 2005, the paper says, Justice Department staffers pulled financial disclosure reports on at least nine members of Congress and at least seven former congressional staffers.

Four of the members are ones you'd expect: Reps. Tom DeLay, Bob Ney and John Doolittle and Sen. Conrad Burns, each of whom is a Republican lawmaker with well-documented ties to the disgraced Republican lobbyist. But Justice Department staffers also pulled records on five members who have, as Roll Call puts it, "no public connection" to the investigation into Abramoff's dealings: Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and John Sweeney, Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott and Earl Pomeroy, and Democrat Eni Faleomavaega, the delegate from American Samoa.

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Staffers for Pomeroy and McDermott tell Roll Call that they have no idea why the Justice Department may have been pulling their bosses' records. Pomeroy has returned about $7,000 in contributions linked to the lobbyist, Roll Call says; McDermott didn't get any in the first place. Faleomavaega apparently tagged along on a taxpayer-sponsored but Abramoff-organized trip to the Marshall Islands in 1999, but it's hard to imagine that the lobbyist or his clients had a lot of interest in influencing a delegate.

The list of former staffers whose records were pulled isn't so surprising. Justice Department staff appear to have been interested in the doings of an aide to DeLay, an aide to Doolittle, three aides to Burns, an aide to Republican Rep. Jim McCrery, who took a goodly pile of cash from Abramoff's tribal clients; and David Safavian, who served as a congressional aide before becoming the Bush administration's top procurement official, a job from which he resigned just before he was indicted on charges of lying about his dealings with Abramoff.


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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