Report: Abramoff sought help from GOP strategist Reed to lobby White House
WASHINGTON – Jack Abramoff, the GOP lobbyist under investigation by federal authorities for possible fraud, repeatedly sought the help of Bush strategist Ralph Reed to open doors at the White House for his business clients, according to e-mails made public Sunday.The e-mails show that Abramoff pushed for intervention from deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove on at least three occasions since 2001 to promote business opportunities.Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition and a candidate in the 2006 race for Georgia’s lieutenant governor, wrote back obliging responses, according to the e-mails obtained by Time magazine. The e-mails are now being reviewed by federal investigators, Time reported.The e-mails show that 10 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Abramoff promoted a business venture to rent cruise ships to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house rescue workers off New York City.Responding to Abramoff’s request for help, Reed wrote on Sept. 21, 2001: “Put in a tag call to karl to find out the best contact at fema.”Four months later, Abramoff wrote Reed seeking “serious swat from Karl” in hopes of getting $16 million released by the Justice Department to fund a jail that his Choctaw Indian clients wished to build in Mississippi. Reed replied that he was at a lunch with Rove at a Republican National Committee meeting and would report the “substance shortly.”Reed agreed to give Rove materials on behalf of the Choctaws, Time reported.The cruise-ship deal was never accepted, while the Choctaws got the jail.A spokeswoman for Reed, Lisa Baron, told Time that her boss receives request for help all the time and that he “does not recall following up on these matters.” On Sunday, Baron told The Associated Press that Reed has no recollection of talking to anyone regarding these issues.In a third set of e-mails, Reed acknowledges having “weighed in heavily” with the White House on behalf of Abramoff to block Angela Williams from being appointed head of the Interior Department’s Office Insular Affairs.Williams is the wife of Orson Swindle, former member of the Federal Trade Commission and a Vietnam prisoner of war with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.Abramoff, not satisfied, responds in a Dec. 5, 2001 e-mail: “Any ideas on how we can make sure she does not get it? Can you ping Karl on this?”Reed writes back: “i am seeing him tomorrow at the WH and plan to discuss it with him as well.”Williams didn’t get the appointment.Congressional Democrats have raised questions about Abramoff’s ties to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. Separately, Abramoff has pleaded innocent to a six-count federal fraud and conspiracy indictment stemming from his role in the 2000 purchase of a fleet of gambling boats in Florida.