E-Mails Show More Abramoff Links to Ex-DOJ Staffers; Probe Continues
Posted Apr 28, 2008 6:55 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Sources tell Legal Times that last week’s guilty plea by a former Justice Department official doesn’t end the investigation of DOJ ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Robert Coughlin, a former member of the Justice Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs, pleaded guilty last Tuesday to accepting thousands of dollars worth of meals and tickets from Abramoff. Coughlin admitted he leaked department information, attended meetings and contacted his Justice colleagues to help Abramoff’s clients.
Legal Times found in its examination of court documents and e-mails that Abramoff had many connections in the Justice Department.
One e-mail from Kevin Ring, a member of Abramoff's lobbying team at Greenberg Traurig, touted his success at securing a $16.3 million Justice Department grant for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the story says. Initially a deputy assistant attorney general had approved only $9 million for the tribe, but someone in Justice approved the higher amount.
Ring, a former staffer in the Justice Department under Attorney General John Ashcroft, had tickets for the Dave Matthews Band that he was giving to the lawyers who helped his clients. Coughlin, who at one time worked with Ring at DOJ, had helped his friend make contacts with Justice Department staffers. "I have the suite filling up with DOJ staffers that just got our clients $16 million," Ring said in an e-mail to a fellow lobbyist, Padgett Wilson.
Wilson’s e-mail reply asserted that Dave Matthews tickets weren’t enough of a reward. "As for those DOJ staffers, those guys should get anything they want for the rest of the time they are in office—opening day tickets, Skins v. Giants, oriental massages, hookers, whatever." Wilson is now director of governmental affairs for Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.