Friday, June 8, 2007

Another One Snared in Abramoff's Web

The web of political connections former superlobbyist -- and current federal prisoner -- Jack Abramoff spun in Washington has resulted in another guilty plea.  Italia Federici, a cofounder of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA), agreed to plead guilty to obstructing a Senate investigation of Abamoff's lobbying activities when she was less-than-truthful in her responses to the Committee.  She also admitted guilt to tax evasion for taking CREA funds for her personal use without paying taxes on the income.  Federici was involved in a personal relationship with J. Steven Griles, who became deputy secretary of the Department of the Interior in 2001, and she introduced Abramoff to Griles shortly before his confirmation.  When questioned by the Committee, however, both Federici and Griles denied how Abramoff was introduced to Griles and the fact that Federici was a conduit for information from Griles to Abramoff.  Griles entered a guilty plea to a similar charge in March 2007, and Federici's plea marks the twelfth defendant who has admitted guilt or been convicted for conduct related to Abramoff. The investigation has been moving at a fairly steady pace since Abramoff agreed to cooperate in January 2006, so don't look for it to end any time soon. The relationship between Griles and Federici was certainly more costly than most such involvements that come to an end.  A Legal Times story (here) discusses the plea agreement. (ph)

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