Saturday, April 16, 2005
The Hastert-Abramoff Connection
Yet more evidence that shows that DeLay, Inc.'s tentacles extend throughout the Republican Party:
Denny Hastert's Late Payment Signatures restaurant, the expense-account haven owned by super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has hosted at least 60 GOP fund-raisers since it opened on Washington's Pennsylvania Ave. NW in early 2002. But the June 3, 2003, lunchtime gathering was special: The guest of honor was House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and the event was a relatively intimate gathering dominated by lobbyists from Greenberg Traurig, the law and lobbying firm where Abramoff then worked. The problem? Nobody paid for the lunch -- or reported it in disclosure documents as an in-kind contribution -- as federal election law requires, BusinessWeek Online has learned. The tab -- which Hastert's office would not disclose -- was paid only this month, around the time that BusinessWeek Online began to investigate fund-raisers for Republican politicos held at Signatures. Hastert's office says his staffers uncovered the oversight. Capitol Hill Republicans are sweating over fallout from their relationships with Abramoff. The lobbyist is under investigation by two Senate committees and a criminal task force involving the Justice Dept. and the IRS for allegedly defrauding his clients -- Indian tribes flush with casino cash -- out of millions of dollars. ABOVE THE FRAY. An associate of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), Abramoff was a key cog in the conservative political movement in Washington, with ties to scores of GOP members of Congress. DeLay, the House's No. 2 Republican, has been hammered by revelations of trips allegedly funded by Abramoff and his firm. DeLay says he never knowingly did anything improper and denounces coverage of his ties to Abramoff as a politically motivated attack on him by Democrats and what he calls the liberal media. The long-unpaid bill from the June 3, 2003, fund-raiser is the first sign that Abramoff's largesse extended to Hastert. While DeLay enforced strict partisan discipline in the House and muscled the lobbyists and trade associations that line Washington's K Street, the genial Speaker from Illinois has been the party's Mr. Clean, floating above the fray.DeLay's going down for reasons unrelated to Abramoff (namely Ronnie Earle's own investigations). But Abramoff not only is linked to DeLay, but to the rest of the Republican Party.
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