In all the Abramoff business I'm surprised there has not been more mention of Susan Ralston. In Jack Abramoff's heyday at Preston Gates and then later at Greenberg-Traurig, Ralston was Abramoff's executive assistant, the one who helped dole out the skyboxes, basically administratively ran his whole shop as near as I can figure.
Then when Karl Rove came to town, she took pretty much the same job with him, becoming his gatekeeper at the White House. She was of course one of many Team Abramoff players who got seconded into the administration. Given the close relationship between Abramoff and Grover Norquist, it's probably not surprising that she also had an arrangement with Norquist in which he gave her direction on who to let through to Rove.
I've been a little unclear on whether Ralston still works for Rove. And today when I called the White House I was told that she's no longer his 'executive assistant'. When I asked what her title was I was told only that she now worked for him "in a different capacity."
We're hearing a lot now about David Safavian, another White House appointee who just got arrested on multiple charges of obstruction of justice. But I'm surprised we haven't heard more about the Ralston connection to Rove and Norquist since she must have known about pretty much everything Abramoff did in his high-rolling years prior to mid-2001.
Just as an example, recently I've been working through a sheaf of emails exchanged betwixt and between various members of Team Abramoff back in the days while Ralston was still working for Abramoff.
In this one from April 20th 2000 (just added to the TPM Document Collection), for instance, Ralston writes to a colleague explaining the guidelines and rules for how Abramoff's various skybox tickets will be distributed.
In this one, from three months later, Abramoff writes to Ralston (just added to the TPM Document Collection). He explains that Adam Kidan, with whom he was then in the process of buying the now-defunct SunCruz casino boat line, wanted to get SunCruz to buy into the skybox operation. He asks for details about just which Indian tribes paid for which allotments of skyboxes and how much -- information Ralston duly provides.
It seems like Ralston was right in the thick of all this. And she's been a top Rove aide for years, seemingly continuing to be involved in various of Abramoff's and Norquist's projects.
Thoughts? We're discussing it here.
Late Update: As of two months ago, National Journal gave Ralston's title as "Special Assistant to the President & Assistant to the Senior Advisor."