Thursday, January 11, 2007

Abramoff's Cooperation May Ensnare a Former Interior Department Official

Former superlobbyist Jack Abramoff's cooperation in the government's investigation of corruption in Washington D.C. seems to be continuing.  There are media reports (see Rocky Mountain News story here) that Steven Griles, who was at one time a deputy to former Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton, is the now the target of an investigation of possible false statements in testimony during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in 2005.  Griles denied accepting anything from Abramoff to provide assistance to Indian tribes concerned about competing gaming licenses.  Former Secretary Norton is quoted in the story, "I was in a position to see whether Steve influenced any decisions to favor Abramoff — and I did not see Steve take any step in that direction."  For a corruption prosecution under 18 U.S.C. Sec 201(b)(2), the government need not prove that an actual decision was influenced, only that the official "corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for . . . being influenced in the performance of any official act . . . ."  Moreover, a false statement or perjury charge would focus on the truthfulness of the statements, and not whether there was in fact a bribe or gratuity.  The fallout from  Abramoff's cooperation continues to reverberate through our nation's capital. (ph)

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