Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Lapdog and Abramoff Relationship

It seems the Abramoff stain has expanded to Doc Hastings.
"Abramoff cited close connections to Hastings in a 1995 letter to the Northern Mariana Islands government in which he urged the government to hire his firm. At the time, Hastings served on a House subcommittee that oversaw the Marianas and was considering Democratic proposals to impose minimum wage, immigration and other U.S. laws on the Pacific commonwealth, which opposed them.

In Abramoff's sales pitch, he wrote that lobbying colleague and former Washington state Democratic Rep. Lloyd Meeds 'has an excellent relationship' with Hastings and several other members of the House Subcommittee on Native American and Insular Affairs.

The Marianas hired Abramoff's firm and paid it millions in the 1990s for lobbying efforts run by Abramoff, including work to counter allegations that Marianas clothing factory workers faced 'sweatshop' conditions. At Abramoff's urging, the island government played host to many congressional aides and lawmakers, including DeLay, who visited at Christmastime in 1997.

Hastings' office and the Marianas team Abramoff headed had at least three dozen contacts in 1996 and 1997, including at least two conversations between Abramoff and Hastings, according to firm invoices and correspondence the island government gave The Associated Press under an open records request. That two-year period was a crucial one for Abramoff as he tried to show the Marianas that Preston Gates' six-figure monthly billings were worth the money."

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