The ITT List
Sunday Oct 15, 2006 9:20 am
Ken Mehlman: Abramoff Butt Boy in the Bush White House
Peter Wallsten in the LA Times reports "E-mails show Jack Abramoff's ability to influence White House staffing decisions through his highly placed friends."
For five years, Allen Stayman wondered who ordered his removal from a State Department job negotiating agreements with tiny Pacific island nations — even when his own bosses wanted him to stay.
Now he knows.
Newly disclosed e-mails suggest that the ax fell after intervention by one of the highest officials at the White House: Ken Mehlman, on behalf of one of the most influential lobbyists in town, Jack Abramoff.
The e-mails show that Abramoff, whose client list included the Northern Mariana Islands, had long opposed Stayman's work advocating labor changes in that U.S. commonwealth, and considered what his lobbying team called the "Stayman project" a high priority.
"Mehlman said he would get him fired," an Abramoff associate wrote after meeting with Mehlman, who was then White House political director.
The exchange illustrates how, more than two years after the corruption scandal surrounding the now-disgraced Abramoff came to light, people are still learning the extent of the lobbyist's ability to pull the levers of power in Washington. The latest revelations provide more detail than the Bush administration has acknowledged about how Abramoff and his team reached into high levels of the White House, not just Capitol Hill, which has been the main focus of the influence-peddling investigation.