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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/13/09

Judd Gregg and his Abramoff problem

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Message Dennis Greenia

We were lucky.

A few weeks ago on a Friday, Todd Boulanger pled guilty for his role in the ongoing Abramoff corruption scandal. He was a key member of Team Abramoff and before that he worked for former NH Senator Bob Smith (one of Jack’s go-to Senators).  Boulanger’s plea identified a Legislative Director for a US Senator as "Staffer F" and laid out the many favors Team Abramoff did for this staffer and some of the deeds done in return.

Over that weekend, a network of scandal researchers had concluded that "Staffer F" was Kevin Koonce and that the Senator was Judd Gregg. The rumor was that Gregg would soon be nominated to be President Obama’s Commerce Secretary. It was too late for Gregg’s link to scandal to filter up and stop it. The day after Gregg was nominated; the Koonce story broke in the AP, Washington Post, New York Times and elsewhere.

Today, Gregg backed out and we dodged a bullet.

OTOH, Gregg and the GOP still have some problems.

Let’s jump... dengre's diary :: ::

Judd Gregg has a Jack Abramoff problem

At the very least, Abramoff and his team had easy access to Gregg’s Senate staff and were able to use that access to help their clients by stopping unfavorable legislation while getting earmarks and favorable legislation passed into law.

As it stands right now, Gregg’s best defense is that he is a terrible manager and that "bad apples" joined his staff, went "rogue" and traded favors in his name. And to be fair, Gregg may be that dense. After all, look at the sloppy and moronic way he withdrew himself from consideration as Obama’s Commerce Secretary: it was not the actions of a competent man. On the other hand, it was the actions of a man distracted by other things. Gregg strikes me as a nervous man deeply worried about another shoe dropping.

Perhaps he is clean of scandal, but I suspect that Gregg had a fair understanding of what his staffers were doing in his name. After all, Kevin Koonce is not the only link between Senator Judd Gregg and Jack Abramoff.

Like most Republicans since 2005, Judd Gregg denies that he ever knew or had anything to do with Jack Abramoff. The money he returned from Abramoff’s clients was just a coincidence. In fact—to hear Gregg or one of his fellow Republicans explain it—any of the growing list of links between Abramoff and Gregg or Abramoff and the Republican Party are just random points of unrelated data. Yeah, right.

They are tap dancing in the graveyard.

Perhaps it was Jack Abramoff who best explained why this line of BS is so hard to believe when he told Vanity Fair  in 2006:

"Any important Republican who comes out and says they didn’t know me is almost certainly lying," he says. Such lies are not just, well, lies, but dumb to boot, he adds, for, as his own humiliations suggest, old e-mails never die; they just sit on hard drives, waiting to be subpoenaed and then to be leaked to the press. "This is not an age when you can run away from facts," he declares. "I had to deal with my records, and others will have to deal with theirs."

It looks like Judd Gregg will have to deal with his Abramoff record. Perhaps this is why he withdrew as the Commerce Secretary and why he has decided to retire from the Senate at the end of this term.

The doorway to Gregg’s involvement with Team Abramoff is spelled out in the factual basis of Todd Boulanger’s plea. This is only a doorway because the plea makes clear that the facts detailed in the plea are just a representative sample of the type of acts Boulanger committed to corrupt officials serving in the legislative branch and executive branch. This is important to keep in mind as you read the details of the factual basis concerning Senator Gregg’s former Legislative Director, Kevin Koonce. So, when it came to Abramoff’s influence on Senator Gregg’s office the facts included, but were not limited to the following (emphasis added):

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Back at the end of the last century, the issue of sweatshops was getting a lot of mainstream attention. By 1999 corporations were reeling from consumer pressure and it was looking like Congress was going to take some action. At that time, Dennis (more...)
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