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Senate Report: Five Nonprofit Groups Sold Clout to Abramoff
On Feb. 10, 2004, Abramoff wrote Norquist: "I have sent over a $50K contribution from DH2 (the mutual fund client). Any sense as to where we are on the op-ed placement?"
Norquist wrote back: "The Wash Times told me they were running the piece . . . I will nudge again."
Another tax-exempt advocacy group that was originally founded by Norquist and Norton, who resigned as interior secretary earlier this year, also appeared to have been used "as an extension of Mr. Abramoff's lobbying organization," the report said.
While many e-mails between Abramoff and the group's president, Italia Federici, have already appeared in the press or in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee's report on Abramoff's activities, the finance committee report offered a few new wrinkles.
Abramoff directed Indian tribes he represented to donate a total of about $500,000 to the group, the Council for Republican Environmental Advocacy. The lobbyist told them the donation was the way to cultivate Norton, whose department oversees Indian tribes and tribal casinos. The new e-mails show that Abramoff told the tribes that they would to be CREA's "trustees," and that Norton would "host" a series of CREA dinners. Interior Department documents obtained by the Post suggest that Norton was an invited guest at a CREA dinner, not a host.
The new e-mails also show a few more favors Abramoff asked Federici to perform for him by influencing friends at Interior, including former Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles. In June 2003, Abramoff asked for Griles' help on five issues affecting his tribal clients, including "moving the Inspector General . . . out of Choctaw."
Griles and Federici have denied any wrongdoing.
Research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.