Thursday, March 09, 2006

Abramoff Says Top Republicans Were Allies

The New York Times
Abramoff Says Top Republicans Were Allies

WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) — Jack Abramoff says in the latest issue of the magazine Vanity Fair that he worked closely with many top Republicans, despite their claims to the contrary.

"Any important Republican who comes out and says they didn't know me is almost certainly lying," Mr. Abramoff said in an article in the magazine's April edition, which was released to reporters on Wednesday.

Mr. Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud charges in January and is cooperating with prosecutors in a corruption inquiry.

In the article, Mr. Abramoff complained that many of those who used to work closely with him now claim that they never knew him.

"You're really no one in this town until you haven't met me," he said.

E-mail messages and other subpoenaed records will eventually prove that he worked closely with them, he said.

The magazine features photographs of Mr. Abramoff with Representative Tom DeLay, former Representative Newt Gingrich and President Ronald Reagan.

Ken Mehlman, the Republican National Committee chairman, dined at Mr. Abramoff's house and forced a Democratic appointee out of the State Department for him, the article said.

Tracey Schmitt, a committee spokeswoman, said, "Jack Abramoff is someone that the chairman has known in various capacities during his time in Washington."

Mr. Abramoff said that he did not spend much time lobbying Mr. DeLay, a Texas Republican, because he knew that the congressman would support his issues, but that they talked about other subjects.

"We would sit and talk about the Bible," he said. "We would sit and talk about opera."

Mr. Abramoffalso said Senator Conrad Burns, Republican of Montana, was especially cooperative, adding, "Every appropriation we wanted, we got. "

Spokesmen for Mr. Burns and Mr. DeLay were not immediately available for comment.