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Abramoff Pressed GSA Contact on Getting Land

Washington Post, February 11, 2006:
In their filing, prosecutors produced e-mails showing that Abramoff engaged in an aggressive campaign to secure for himself and clients the use of GSA-controlled property, including the Old Post Office in downtown Washington. Among his efforts, Abramoff considered trying to get a provision backing the land acquisition added to a bill being managed by House Administration Committee Chairman Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), who also went with Abramoff on the golf trip, which prosecutors have called "lavish."


The e-mails show how Abramoff and members of his team were strategizing among themselves and with Safavian about how to acquire or lease part of 600 acres of the Naval Surface Warfare Center-White Oak in Montgomery County. Abramoff wanted the property for a Jewish school he operated. He also wanted to gain use of the Old Post Office for a tribal client. A key strategy involved getting members of Congress, at Safavian's suggestion, to press the GSA on the issue.

At one point, Abramoff asked a member of his lobbying team, Neil G. Volz, if he could get a provision inserted into an election-reform bill to advance the acquisition of the land. The bill was sponsored by Ney, Volz's former boss.

Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed was also on the trip with Abramoff, Ney, and Ney's chief of staff, William Heaton. Ney, who reported to the House that the trip was paid for by a think tank, is under investigation for allegedly promising to add a provision to the same bill for an Indian tribe attempting to reopen a shuttered Texas casino.

"If we were to craft something oblique, any chance of slipping into the election reform bill?" Abramoff asked Volz. "I know we are loading that up, but I thought I'd ask." Volz replied by saying he wanted to call Safavian at home to discuss it.