Green to Abramoff: 2 degrees of separation
Does the name Susan Ralston ring a bell? Do you remember her Wisconsin connection?
Let's start with this Washington Post story:
Report Says Rove Aide Accepted Abramoff GiftsBefore she went to work for Rove in the White House in 2001, Ralston was the Abramoff aide who handed out the tickets. And she handed a lot of them out to Mark Graul, then chief of staff to Congressman Mark Green, now his campaign manager.
A top aide to presidential adviser Karl Rove passed along inside White House information to superlobbyist Jack Abramoff at a time when she was also accepting his tickets to nine sports and entertainment events, according to e-mails released yesterday in a bipartisan congressional report.
The e-mails, released by the House Government Reform Committee, show that Susan Ralston also on occasion discussed possible business ventures with Abramoff. Ralston had worked for Abramoff before joining Rove in the White House in 2001.
White House contacts with Abramoff have been the focus of heated interest in Washington since he pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges earlier this year...
The report identified 66 Abramoff contacts with the White House, more than half of them with Ralston. Members of Abramoff's lobbying team at Greenberg Traurig LLP contacted Ralston 69 times.
Ralston has declined to comment on the report...
Ralston also helped Rove get tickets from Abramoff for a game in the NCAA basketball tournament, but Ralston told Abramoff that he "has to pay." The White House confirmed yesterday that Rove paid for the tickets.
But Ralston apparently did not pay for tickets she accepted to MCI Center events -- including two concerts featuring rocker Bruce Springsteen and singer Andrea Bocelli, three Capitals hockey games and a Wizards basketball game -- and seats at a Baltimore Orioles baseball game at Camden Yards.
On seven occasions, Ralston requested tickets, the report said. "You got 'em," Abramoff e-mailed Ralston when she asked in December 2001 for four prime Wizards tickets valued at $1,300, the report said.
In 2004, Ralston e-mailed Abramoff that she was "willing to pay" for Capitals tickets, but he replied, "No problem, and you don't have to pay!" In 2003, she thanked him for his "generosity" in providing Orioles tickets.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the counsel's office is examining the report to determine whether ethics regulations were violated. Rules prohibit the acceptance of gifts worth more than $20 from anyone doing business with the government...
Did she just like Mark Graul? Or did Abramoff want something from Green?
There was a long string of blog items and stories about the Green-Abramoff connection a year ago, and Graul's story kept changing. There was a string of emails confirming that Graul was on Abramoff's freebie list, but Graul danced around the issue for months.
Finally, Graul was cornered and admitted to taking freebies in violation of the House ethics code, and asking for freebies, which is illegal for federal employees.
Now Graul spends most of his time peddling sleaze about Gov. Jim Doyle.
Maybe it's time again to consider the source.