Coloradans Know Jack

The infamous GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be cooling his heels in Club Fed, but for Democrats eager to bury everyone ever associated with him, he’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Key to Abramoff’s “success” in fleecing Native American tribes of millions of dollars in lobbying fees was his connections inside former Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton’s Department of the Interior. Norton brought her closest Colorado political allies with her to Washington when she was made Interior Secretary in 2001. Which is where the fun began, as we’ve discussed here repeatedly, and according to today’s Denver Post:

A one-time Colorado political activist and ex-girlfriend of a convicted Interior Department official has been informed by the Justice Department that there is “substantial evidence” linking her to criminal activity in the Jack Abramoff scandal.

In a January 2007 letter obtained by the publication Legal Times, a federal prosecutor urged Italia Federici to hire an attorney to defend against allegations that she used a tax-exempt organization to lobby for Abramoff’s clients and lied about its activities to Congress.

The letter also recommended Federici meet with prosecutors to negotiate a resolution requiring her to plead guilty to at least one felony charge.

“The investigation is focused on the allegedly illegal manner in which you operated the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, commonly known as CREA,” a Justice Department tax division attorney wrote to Federici, a former aide to former Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

CREA became ensnared in scandal after evidence emerged that Abramoff’s Indian casino clients gave the group almost $500,000 to gain influence within the Interior Department…

The Post article neglects to mention that CREA was in fact founded by Norton along with anti-tax crusader and known Abramoff consort Grover Norquist. Or that the scandal resulted in the Bush administration’s quiet, reluctant termination of Norton’s political career…

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  1. CaninesCanines says:

    *nobody* can get a good table at the D.C. restaurant Signatures, anymore. It’s closed now:

    http://en.wikipedia….

    Man, it must have been *the fat cat’s pajamas* to sit at Table 40.

  2. RavenDawg says:

      The timing of Norton’s departure from Interior was strongly suggestive that she was getting out before the Griles-Federici shit hit the fan but as far as I could tell from the media there was never a paper trail into Norton’s office–other than her anything-goes tolerance of behavior by her subordinates.  What is the basis for your reference to the “quiet, reluctant termination of Norton’s political career?”  Is there more than circumstantial implication of involvement on her part?  Inquiring minds want to know. 

  3. RavenDawg says:

      Looking at your back posts, there is nothing specific other than guilt by association of Norton with former ties to Federici and CREA. 

    • Ah Choo says:

      You are right, Gale Norton has so far survived from any legal linkage to the corrupt activities of her immediate deputy, and the corrupt friend she installed into the fake think tank she herself started. But somehow she didn’t survive politically.

      And I know nothing is ever anyone’s fault in Bush Land, but there is that issue of “ministerial accountability.” She was supposedly in charge of the Interior Department, after all.

      • RavenDawg says:

        …or better yet from an old-growth redwood.
        But the point is that Pols made specific implication that (1)Norton had verifiable involvement in wrong-doing and (2) her political career was prematurelly terminated–by the Bush Admin.  Based on Pols’ silence since their original post it appears that they are spreading innuendo rather than speaking from definitive knowledge.

        • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

          1. We said only that Norton brought close political associates from Colorado to DC, who then brokered access to her for Abramoff. Federici held no government position, but donations to her organzation by Abramoff resulted in access to Norton. The organization was founded by Gale Norton.

          2. It’s a little more than innuendo, but if the AP doesn’t headline it and John McCain runs enough cover in committee, you can parlor game these things into oblivion.

          • RavenDawg says:

            1.  I still have seen no clear evidence that owing to subordinates’ shenanigans Abramoff was provided access *to Norton* (much as I would like to believe it).  Also nothing on Norton jumped/being pushed out of Interior by Bush Admin.
            2.  Agreed on #2 that matters seem safely under the rug for now but again what is needed is better documentation to make this a real story.
              But I’m all ears if you find something.

            • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

              There is that person standing between them. Maybe he was always standing between them. Then you could say that no, Abramoff never had “access” to Gale Norton. (Abramoff far right, Norton center, image courtesy US Department of the Interior)

              It may depend on what you mean by “access” (keep it clean).

              • RavenDawg says:

                Is one of the other people in the picture Griles? 
                  I also recall Norton is moving on to represent an oil/gas lobby group?  Would be interesting to know if there is an Abramoff/Griles/Federici connection there. 
                  Still nothing solid but the ongoing Congressional investigations have potential to uncover unexpected connections in the interlocking network of cronies and scandals.

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