Hill Aide Emerges in Lobbyist's Case
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
An aide to Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.) worked closely with indicted former lobbyist Kevin A. Ring to help his firm maintain an Indian tribe in the lawmaker's district as a lucrative client, according to court papers unsealed Monday.
E-mails between the unnamed staff member for Wilson and lobbyists at Greenberg Traurig were fresh disclosures in a public corruption case that has resulted in 13 guilty pleas.
On Monday, Ring pleaded not guilty to 10 conspiracy, fraud and obstruction-of-justice charges. He is accused of lavishing sports tickets and meals on lawmakers and executive branch officials who helped his lobbying clients. His former supervisor, Jack Abramoff, was sentenced last week to four years in prison.
Wilson, an Air Force veteran who has served in Congress since 1998, was not mentioned by name in Ring's indictment, but lawyers involved in the case said the references were to her and her staff members.
In January 2003, a lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig e-mailed a staffer for Wilson, according to court papers. "I greatly appreciate your taking the time to han[g] out with the" Sandia Pueblo tribe. "BTW you should be all set for the Clippers game."
A month later, according to the indictment, the Wilson staff member e-mailed a lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig to ask, "How did Kevin's meeting with the [New Mexico tribe] go? If you guys lose that contract I would be disappointed."
On March 4, 2003, a lobbyist colleague e-mailed Ring, "I'm going to kill [the New Mexico tribe] with [its U.S. Representative] if we don't get hired," according to the indictment.
In a statement, Wilson said that she was "completely unaware" of the e-mails by her former staff member and that she had not been contacted by prosecutors. "I represent the Pueblo regardless of who they hire to represent them," Wilson said. "At no time did I take any action on behalf of Greenberg Traurig with Sandia Pueblo."
On March 30, 2003, Abramoff sent $1,000 to Wilson's political action committee for her reelection bid, according to campaign finance records. In June 2003, Ring donated $1,000 to Wilson's campaign, the records show.
Research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.