Too Close for Comfort with Abramoff

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2. The access didn't get him much.

Abramoff was looking to fund projects for his Indian clients, so he focused most of his energy in the right place, on Capitol Hill and in the agencies like the Department of the Interior that dole out federal dollars and oversee them much closer than the White House. But his efforts to get his friends hired in key administration posts, such as chief of staff to Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton, were largely unsuccessful. His biggest coup was getting the White House to back some candidates he liked and at one point to deny support to someone he opposed, but those races were in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Abramoff got nothing like the results he had on Capitol Hill, where Ney inserted comments in the Congressional Record attacking one of Abramoff's business rivals and other members inserted money into billls for tribal schools and other pet projects.

3. There is someone in Washington who has ethical standards.

The most angry exchange in the hundreds of e-mails isn't about Abramoff's clients not getting what they want from the White House. In 2003, administration officials had an ethics advisor talk to the Intergovernmental Affairs Office at the White House, which usually dealt with the tribes and their lobbyist, Abramoff. The advisor suggested that the White House officials should talk to the tribes directly, rather than the lobbyists, and that the lobbyists shouldn't even be in the room during these meetings. Abramoff's deputies were furious. And Abramoff knew these strict standards, which it doesn't appear were enforced, would endanger his job security. "This is horrible," he wrote." Why would they f--- us like this?"

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