The Secret Service has agreed to turn over White House visitor logs that will show how often convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff met with Bush administration officials — and with whom he met.
U.S. District Judge John Garrett Penn last Tuesday approved an agreement between the Secret Service and Judicial Watch, a public interest group, that requires the agency to produce records of Abramoff’s visits from Jan. 1, 2001, to the present.
Judicial Watch filed suit in February after the Secret Service failed to respond to its request under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Abramoff, who represented Indian tribes in their dealings with Washington politicians, once was one of the city’s most successful lobbyists.
He pleaded guilty in January in Washington to federal charges stemming from an investigation into his ties with members of Congress and the Bush administration. He also pleaded guilty to fraud charges in Miami concerning a multimillion-dollar purchase of SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet in 2000.
Administration officials have refused to say how many times Abramoff, who raised at least $100,000 for President Bush’s re-election, has been to the White House. Bush has said he doesn’t know Abramoff.
Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch’s director of investigations, said, “The documents will speak loud and clear on what Abramoff was doing in and out of the White House.”
The visitor logs are to be delivered to Judicial Watch by May 10.
Bush’s spokesman has said Abramoff attended “a few staff-level meetings” at the White House, as well as Hanukkah receptions in 2001 and 2002.
The president has said he does not know Abramoff personally. When a photo of Bush with Abramoff surfaced earlier this year, the president said he has his picture taken with “a lot of people.” In the 2001 photo, Bush is shaking hands with a leader of an Indian tribe. Abramoff is in the background.
A few days after Bush made the remarks about the photo, Abramoff expressed surprise in e-mails to a magazine editor about the president’s faulty memory. Abramoff told the Washingtonian magazine that he had met with Bush nearly a dozen times and that Bush knew him well enough to joke with him.
Three former business associates of Abramoff also told The Associated Press that Abramoff often mentioned White House adviser Karl Rove when talking about his influence inside the White House.
Abramoff was a $100,000 fundraiser for Bush and lobbying records obtained by the AP show his lobbying team logged nearly 200 meetings with the administration during its first 10 months in office on behalf of one of his clients, the Northern Mariana Islands.
The contacts between Abramoff’s team and the administration included meetings with Attorney General John Ashcroft and policy advisers to Vice President Dick Cheney, the AP reported last year.
© 2006 The Associated Press