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E-Mails Reveal Abramoff Requests, Contacts
The Saginaw used the Chao photo, the commission appointment and photos they took with Bush at the White House to boast on their internal Web site about the high-level Washington access that Abramoff's team had won.
Labor officials confirmed that Chao attended the reception at Norquist's home. But they said they do not know who recommended Kahgegab to be appointed in May 2003 to the U.S. Native American Employment and Training Council. The department sought to remove the chief a year later after he lost a tribal election, documents show.
"This is one of hundreds of advisory appointments that are sent forward by agencies within the department for front office signoff," said a department spokesman, David James.
ATR's Kartch suggested Chao's contact with the Saginaw at Norquist's home was incidental. "ATR does many receptions for supporters. There were dozens of people in attendance that evening. This event was not organized specifically for any person, but was rather a widely attended general event," he said.
Norquist did make a special effort _ at Abramoff's request _ to introduce a British businessman and an African dignitary to Rove at another ATR event in summer 2002.
Abramoff bluntly told Norquist he was asking the African dignitary for a $100,000 donation to ATR and suggested the introduction to Rove might help secure the money.
"I have asked them for $100K for ATR," Abramoff wrote Norquist in July 2002. "If they come I'll think we'll get it. If he is there, please go up to him (he'll be African) and welcome him."
"I am assuming this is very important and therefore we are making it happen," the GOP activist wrote back, promising to introduce the two foreigners as well as a Saginaw tribal official to Rove that night.
A day later, an ecstatic Abramoff sent an e-mail thanking Norquist for "accommodating" the introductions. "I spoke with the ambassador today and he is moving my ATR request forward," the lobbyist wrote, referring to the donation.
Kartch confirmed Norquist invited the foreigners to the ATR event, but Kartch said the group never asked for, expected or received the $100,000.
It was not the first time that Abramoff sought ATR donations in connection with lobbying business. E-mails dating to 1995 show Abramoff solicited donations from clients to Norquist's group as part of lobbying efforts.
"I spoke this evening with Grover," Abramoff wrote in an October 1995 e-mail outlining how Norquist and his group could help a client on a matter before Congress.
Abramoff wrote that the lobbying help he was seeking from Norquist's group was "perfectly consistent" with ATR's position but that Norquist nonetheless wanted a donation to be made.
"He said that if they want the taxpayer movement, including him, involved on this issue and anything else which will come over the course of the year or so, they need to become a major player with ATR. He recommended that they make a $50,000 contribution to ATR," the lobbyist wrote.
Abramoff cautioned one of his colleagues that the donation needed to be "kept discreet."
"We don't want opponents to think that we are trying buy the taxpayer movement," he said.
Kartch denied that anyone at ATR asked Abramoff for the money. "ATR is not responsible for comments by Jack Abramoff to third parties," he said.