20 September 2005

House of Cards: Bush official arrested for corruption

Bush Official Arrested in Corruption Probe

The Bush administration's top federal procurement official resigned Friday and was arrested yesterday, accused of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings with the federal government. It was the first criminal complaint filed against a government official in the ongoing corruption probe related to Abramoff's activities in Washington.

Interestingly, His wife, Jennifer Safavian, is chief counsel for oversight and investigations on the House Government Reform Committee, which is responsible for overseeing government procurement and is, among other things, expected to conduct the Congressional investigation into missteps after Hurricane Katrina. One no longer wonders why they all think they can get away with misusing their office. They also control all the oversight.

The complaint, filed by the FBI, alleges that David H. Safavian, 38, a top White House procurement official involved until last week in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, made repeated false statements to government officials and investigators about his dealings with Abramoff.

It also contends that he concealed his efforts to help Abramoff acquire control of two federally managed properties in the Washington area. Abramoff is the person identified as "Lobbyist A" in a 13-page affidavit unsealed in court, according to sources knowledgeable about the probe.

Until his resignation on the day the criminal complaint against him was signed, Safavian was the top Bush administrator at the federal procurement office in the White House Office of Management and Budget, where he set purchasing policy for the entire government.

Abramoff was indicted by federal prosecutors in Miami last month on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. He remains the linchpin of an 18-month probe by a federal task force that includes the Internal Revenue Service, the Interior Department and the Justice Department's fraud and public integrity units.

Abramoff's allegedly improper dealings with Indian tribes -- which netted him and an associate at least $82 million in fees -- prompted the federal probe. But investigators have found that his documents and e-mails contain a trove of information about his aggressive efforts to seek favors for clients from Republican members of Congress and senior Bush bureaucrats.

Accompanying Safavian and Abramoff on the 2002 trip to Scotland, for example, were Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Administration Committee, lobbyist and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, Neil Volz, a lobbyist with Abramoff at the Washington office of Greenburg Traurig, and Tom Delay, senior House Republican.
Most interesting is that as usual Safavian is not qualified for this position. He only has a BA in political science from the Univ of Albany. Not exactly stellar credentials to hold down a position of this magnitude. I am sure there are tons of MBA's out there from Ivy League schools with a great deal of experience in this arena that would have clamored for this job.

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