Bush aide passed sensitive information to Abramoff


    A Bush administration official gave sensitive inside information to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, warning him the government was about to suspend the
    federal contracts to one of his clientsclient, newly filed court papers say.

    David
    Safavian, a former top procurement officer, provided “sensitive and confidential information” about four
    subsidiaries of Tyco International to Abramoff regarding internal
    deliberations at the General Services Administration, say the court
    papers filed Friday in a criminal case against Safavian.

    Abramoff
    has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud in a
    burgeoning bribery probe centered on Capitol Hill but also involving
    the Interior Department.

    The White House is refusing to release
    photographs of President Bush and Abramoff or to reveal what contact
    Abramoff had with White House aides.

    Acting on the information
    that Abramoff provided the company in November 2003, Tyco lawyer
    Timothy Flanigan, a former assistant attorney general in the Bush
    administration, contacted the general counsel to the GSA and asked for
    an opportunity to address the suspension.

    The company revealed Flanigan’s role in a statement.

    In
    October, Flanigan withdrew his nomination to be Bush’s deputy attorney
    general. His confirmation was delayed due to questions about his
    dealings with Abramoff when Abramoff was a Tyco lobbyist.

    The government had planned to suspend Tyco because of alleged criminal conduct by former Tyco executives.

    After
    advising Abramoff about the internal deliberations at GSA, Safavian
    suggested to Abramoff what arguments Tyco should make when it appealed
    the suspension decision, the court papers in Safavian’s federal court
    case say.

    Once tipped off by Abramoff, Tyco hired an outside law
    firm and successfully petitioned the government to lift the suspension
    and allow Tyco to continue to perform on government contracts.

    The
    law firm outlined “the many steps that Tyco had taken, including to
    bring on a new board of directors, a new CEO and new corporate senior
    management,” Tyco said in its statement.

    Safavian faces trial on
    charges that he lied and obstructed investigations into whether he
    aided Abramoff in efforts to acquire GSA-controlled property around the
    nation’s capital.

    The government said in its court filing Friday
    that it intends to present the information regarding Tyco at Safavian’s
    upcoming trial. Safavian has pleaded innocent and his lawyers have
    moved for dismissal of all charges.

    Safavian is accused of
    concealing from federal investigators that Abramoff was seeking to do
    business with the GSA when Safavian joined the lobbyist on a golf trip
    to Scotland in 2002. At the time, Safavian was GSA’s chief of staff. He
    became the Bush administration’s chief procurement official in November
    2004.

    In its statement, Tyco said that the information from
    Abramoff had come in unsolicited, that the corporation did not use
    Abramoff’s services to respond to GSA, and that the company did not
    contact Safavian directly.

    The company said its outside counsel,
    George Terwilliger, was assured by Justice Department prosecutors that
    neither the company nor anyone at the company, including Flanigan, is
    accused, is suspected or is being investigated for any wrongdoing.

    In May 2003, Abramoff, then employed by the Washington firm Greenberg Traurig, solicited Tyco for lobbying on a tax issue.

    Prosecutors
    say Abramoff recommended that Tyco hire both him and a public relations
    and campaign consulting firm called GrassRoots Interactive, but hid
    from Tyco that GrassRoots Interactive was his business.

    In May
    and June 2003, Tyco paid GrassRoots Interactive, directly and through
    Greenberg Traurig’s bank account, about $1.8 million, of which about
    $1.6 million went to Abramoff and entities he controlled, prosecutors
    say.