Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Fixer 

Courtesy of Zemblan patriot T.T.: You are certainly aware that the indictment of super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the decision by Abramoff henchman Michael Scanlon to cooperate with federal prosecutors, is likely to end the careers of several prominent Republican politicians. You may not know, however, that Mr. Abramoff has been in comparably tight spots before, and has managed to wriggle free -- with the help of a certain Guardian Angel-in-Chief:
A US grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, but President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor, and the probe ended soon after.

The previously undisclosed Guam inquiry is separate from a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia that is investigating allegations that Abramoff bilked Indian tribes out of millions of dollars.

In Guam, a US territory in the Pacific, investigators were looking into Abramoff's secret arrangement with Superior Court officials to lobby against a court reform bill then pending in Congress. The legislation, since approved, gave the Guam Supreme Court authority over the Superior Court.

In 2002, Abramoff was retained by the Superior Court in what was an unusual arrangement for a public agency. The Los Angeles Times reported in May that Abramoff was paid with a series of $9,000 checks funneled through a Laguna Beach, Calif., lawyer to disguise the lobbyist's role working for the Guam court. No separate contract was authorized for Abramoff's work . . . .

A day later, the chief prosecutor, US Attorney Frederick A. Black, who had launched the investigation, was demoted. A White House news release announced that Bush was replacing Black.

The timing caught some by surprise. Despite his officially temporary status as the acting US attorney, Black had held the assignment for more than a decade.

The acting US attorney was a controversial official in Guam. At the time he was replaced, Black was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the administration of then-Governor Carl Gutierrez. The probe produced numerous indictments, including some of the governor's political associates and top aides.

Black, 56, had served as acting US attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands since 1991, when he was named to the post by the president's father, President George H. W. Bush.
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