Skip to comments.Papers show Bush allies' inside access (Jack Abramoff, Grover Norquist,Ralph Reed)
Posted on 09/20/2006 4:03:37 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON - Republican activists Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed landed more than 100 meetings inside the Bush White House, according to documents released Wednesday that provide the first official accounting of the access and influence the two presidential allies have enjoyed.
The White House released the Secret Service visit records to settle a lawsuit by the Democratic Party and an ethics watchdog group seeking visitors logs for the two GOP strategists and others who emerged as figures in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.
Earlier this month, the White House suggested to the judge in that lawsuit that such records need not be disclosed because the information was privileged and might reveal how Bush and his staff get private advice, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
White House officials said Norquist, who runs the nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform, was cleared for 97 visits to the White House complex between 2001 and 2006, including a half-dozen with the president.
Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition and an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia earlier this year, got 18 meetings, including two events with Bush.
Officials said they believe all meetings with Bush involved larger group settings, such as Christmas parties or policy briefings for GOP supporters.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, however, it was possible some of Norquist's meetings might have been directly with Karl Rove, the president's longtime confidant and political strategist.
"He is one of a number of individuals who worked to advance fiscal responsibility, which is one of the key aspects of the president's agenda," Perino said.
Both Reed and Norquist became involved with Abramoff, the once high-power GOP lobbyist who has pleaded guilty to fraud and is now cooperating with prosecutors in an influence peddling investigation that has rocked Capitol Hill.
Norquist's group advocates lower taxes and less government and he built it into a major force in the Republican Party. Along the way he became friends with Abramoff and Rove.
E-mails obtained this summer by AP show Norquist facilitated several administration contacts for Abramoff's clients while the lobbyist simultaneously solicited those clients for large donations to Norquist's group. Americans for Tax Reform acknowledged Norquist helped Abramoff but said he did nothing improper.
Reed rose to prominence as an organizer of evangelical Christian groups, including the Christian Coalition, inside the Republican Party before moving into business ventures where he did work for Indian tribes at Abramoff's request.
Documents unearthed by congressional investigators showed Abramoff and business partner Michael Scanlon routed about $4 million from Indian tribes to Reed-controlled entities for grassroots work aimed at blocking rival casinos. The revelations came as Reed ran an unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor in Georgia.
The release of the visitor records settles lawsuits by the Democratic Party and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
In a court filing earlier this month while settlement discussions were ongoing, Justice Department lawyers representing the administration said information about the Norquist and Reed visits should be protected from public disclosure under the doctrine of "deliberative process privilege."
That privilege lets the president and executive branch officials seek advice and deliberate policy decisions in private without having to disclose such information under the Freedom of Information Act.
It is similar to executive privilege, a power made famous by President Nixon, that lets a president keep information secret even from Congress or the courts on the grounds that it would hurt his ability to get candid advice.
Executive privilege was the focal point of major legal battles in the Watergate and Clinton impeachment cases.
Bush administration lawyers wrote that Norquist and Reed were "prominent advocates of particular tax policies and other conservative policies" and that releasing information about their White House visits would "inherently reveal the structure and nature of deliberative processes."
"In making decisions on personnel and policy, and in formulating legislative proposals, the president must be free to seek confidential information from many sources, both inside the government and outside," the lawyers wrote in citing a favorable court ruling from 2005 involving Vice President Dick Cheney.
The administration lawyers also argued against releasing information about the White House visits of former federal procurement official David Safavian on the grounds that it would violate Safavian's privacy. Safavian was recently convicted of trying to cover up his dealings with Abramoff.
Administration officials said the Justice Department never invoked the privilege mentioned in the court filings because a settlement was reached. The lawyers made the arguments in the court filing only when the judge asked them to outline what legal arguments it might make if the case went to trial, the official said.
Former White House lawyer Lanny Breuer, who handled many of President Clinton's privilege claims, said that administration routinely released White House entry records to the public and never "came close to making a claim like the one being suggested in this instance."
Deliberative and executive privilege claims are "designed to protect the advice the president gets. They are not intended to protect the identities of people from whom he gets that advice or when or where that advice was given from a particular person," Breuer said.
OK, so the Democrats are going to launch an investigation.
I can hardly wait for the release of the William Jefferson indictment next month.
The Clinton White House.....that paragon of virtue and truth.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Gas prices down, the economy and stock market up, so the AP is forced to pull this tired and stale piece of nothing out of their asses. So predictable.
Of course those people are going to be invited to the White House. They've long been allies of Bush and his policies. Big deal.
Meanwhile, AP ignores Harry Reid actually GETTING a ton of money from Abramoff clients.
Ergo, lower taxes and less government are evil?
Yea, all because Bush let a professed "Christian" in the WH!!!!
Can't have that ya know.
I call bull shit. Clinton continually tried to claim an attorney client privilege with the government attorney over private matters. IMO, the reason he went through so many White House Councils.
A lot of people collected money from Abramoff, uhh, make that, accepted donations.. many who have since donated it to charities, God bless their little souls.
Wow, what else is new? They keep trying---and keep losing, but I'm getting tired of them wasting my money!
That's the $65,000 question yet to be answered by the pipsqueak from Searchlight, NV.
I'll bet alot of the juicy details have already been redacted.
Don't you mean the pipsqueak from Dim Bulb, NV?
Here we go...
I have a suspicion a few salient entries will be left unredacted. besides, it's kind of hard to get the freezer burn off of bundles of hundred dollar bills, not that I have any personal experience with either keeping money in the freezer much less stacks of it. ;-)
I just hope the AG doesn't hold off on pushing this one over the top and soon, altho based on the reaction of the Capitol leadership, it wouldn't surprise me either.
I know the FBI has its plate full and all, just investigating ongre$$ eats up a lot of resources these days, being as they won;t police themselves ethics wise.
hmm,, laundering scandal in the white house..
that could work.. ;-)
That's the title they'd pick for it to, you just know it.
That is an unpleasant reminder of just how sleazy and disgusting Bill and Hillary Clinton's administration was.