AP has taken a look at Jack Abramoff's lobbying records and has successfully FOIA'd documents on Abramoff doing the Lord's Work for the Northern "We love sweatshops!" Marianas. Among the findings, surprise, surprise:
In President Bush's first year in the White House, the administration had roughly 200 contacts with Republican fundraiser Jack Abramoff and his lobbying team as they sought to influence Bush's hires and pressed him to keep the Northern Mariana Islands free from the minimum wage law, documents show.
Abramoff raised $100,000-plus for Bush; all in a hard day's work:
His firm boasted that its lobbying team helped revised a section of the Republican Party's 2000 platform to make it favorable to its island client.
In addition, two of Abramoff's lobbying colleagues on the Marianas won political appointments to federal agencies: Patrick Pizzella, named an assistant secretary of labor by Bush, and David Safavian, chosen by Bush to oversee federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget.
My favorite part:
The records from Abramoff's firm chronicle Abramoff's cultivation of relations with Bush's political team as far back as 199. In that year, Abramoff charged the Marianas for getting then-Texas Gov. Bush to write a letter expressing support for the Pacific territory's school choice proposal, his billing records show.
"I hope you will keep my office informed on the progress of this initiative," Bush wrote in a July 18, 1997, letter praising the islands' school plan and copying in an Abramoff deputy.
White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said Thursday that Bush didn't consider Abramoff a friend. "They may have met on occasion, but the president does not know him," she said.