One bit from today's Boston Globe
Jack Abramoff and his Russian energy mogul clients that shouldn't be missed:
Abramoff's work on Russian affairs began in the mid-1990s, according to J. Michael Waller, the former editor of a Washington-based newsletter, Russia Reform Monitor. Waller said he was contacted by two Abramoff associates in 1997, and was asked to help organize Abramoff's trip with DeLay to Russia.
"I was told by two of Abramoff's colleagues that he wanted to represent the Russian government," Waller said. He said Abramoff's colleagues explained that Abramoff was working for Naftasib, the Russian energy company, and that "if he performed well on Naftasib then the Russian government would retain him."
That made Waller uncomfortable, he added, because he had read Russian documents that said Naftasib supplied oil to the Russian military, so he declined to help Abramoff plan the trip.
"I was concerned that Abramoff was going to become an agent of influence for the Russian government and that he would mask that relationship," Waller said.
Who's to say he wasn't? According to the Globe
, Naftasib filtered at least $2.1M to Abramoff through a Dutch company that existed only on paper. That in itself suggests a strong element of subterfuge.
Naftasib is closely tied into the Russian government. Abramoff may have been trying to use his connection to them as a stepping stone to formally representing the Russians. But it's not clear that would have made much of a difference. After all, look at what he was working on, nominally on behalf of Naftasib, an energy company:
Abramoff's lobbying records also suggest that the money paid to Abramoff by Voor Huisen [the Dutch shell company] was used to promote Russian interests. One lobbying report said Abramoff was hired by Voor Huisen to "promote private housing in the former Soviet Union and other projects in energy and economics." Other reports that Abramoff filed said he lobbied for Voor Huisen on matters ranging from aviation safety to disaster preparedness to unspecified issues ''pertaining to defense and security."
[The subpoena] asks for records relating to Naftasib's interest in legislation, tax policy, and the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF, which is financed partly by the US government, has provided billions of dollars in loans and loan guarantees to the Russian government.
Geeslin said he had been told that the money was aimed at influencing the vote of DeLay, the former House majority leader, on legislation that shored up the IMF's financing for Russia.
In reality, Abramoff seems to have been representing Russia, in practice if not on paper. He just never made it official. Then again, why bother? He wasn't even officially representing Naftasib.