They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

We've been banging the Don Young drum for a little while here at TPM, because it's just not clear to us that Rep. Young (R-AK) really had "no personal or professional relationship" with Jack Abramoff, as he has claimed.

Now, it's been reported already that Rep. Young used Abramoff's skyboxes for fundraisers before Abramoff's fall from grace. But to date, Rep. Young or his office has sort of muddled the significance of those ties by claiming that his campaign didn't know in whose suite those events were held. (Never mind that the plaque at the door to the MCI Center suite said "Jack Abramoff").

Today, however, we're publishing a Team Abramoff email which puts those claims into further doubt.

The email is from Jennifer Calvert to Jack Abramoff and his then-assistant Susan Ralston.

At the time, Calvert was a member of Team Abramoff at Preston Gates, the law firm where Abramoff ran his operation until the end of 2000. In the email, Calvert tells Abramoff, "Don Young has asked for the use of our suites for some upcoming fundraisers". (You can read the actual email here.)

That email seems pretty straightforward to us. Young apparently asked Calvert to ask Abramoff if he could use one of his skyboxes for his fundraisers. And that seems like some sort of a relationship.

We went back to Young's office to get comment on this latest revelation. But the response seemed a bit off-point.

Young spokesman Grant Thompson emailed us back this reply:

"Mr Young does not feel it appropriate to comment on emails that are generated within a corporation. When you find communications from Mr Young or his staff, we will consider responding."


We're not sure what the problem is with commenting on emails "that are generated within a corporation." And, as a response, it's not exactly a denial - it's more of a challenge. In fact, we appreciate Rep. Young's confidence that we will ultimately find these communications. We'll do our muckraker best not to let him down.

At MZM, Inc., it really was all in the family.

In today's Daily Muck, I noted that in their story on Mitchell Wade's guilty plea, The Washington Post identified the anonymous Defense Department "Official" as Robert Fromm. In that they differed from the Times and the SDUT, each of whom said that the unnamed official was William S. Rich, Jr.

According to the plea, after Wade arranged for his son to work for MZM, the "Official" gave Wade all sorts of help in winning contracts with the Defense Department. This went on for at least a year and a half until the "Official" decided just to go ahead and make things official and moved over to MZM himself.

This seemed like a perfect description of Rich, whose son worked for MZM and who himself eventually moved over to MZM.

I thought so too, and said this morning that I thought the Post had got it wrong.

But it turns out there was just so much corruption at MZM that it's hard to keep the father-son sweatheart deal duos straight. In other words, yes, there was another father/son combination.

Walter Pincus at the Post, who reported on Rich's work for MZM last year, told me that according to his sources, Robert Fromm's son went to work for MZM in February, 2002. That matches up with the facts in the plea, which also says February, 2002. Rich's son, William Scott Rich III, didn't go to work for MZM until December 2002. Furthermore, Rich left the Pentagon to work for MZM in September 2003, long before the "Official" in the plea agreement, who left for MZM in July, 2004.

So there you have it: two defense officials, both in a position to help Wade win contracts, both of whom had sons go to work for Wade, and then went over themselves to work at MZM.

According to Pincus' story last year, at least 16 Defense Department employees made their way over to MZM. Who knows how many other father/son or mother/daughter combinations were united there?

All apologies to the Post - and as for Robert Fromm, he'll be making his Grand Ole Docket debut later in the day.

(Late Update: We've added the "Statement of Offenses" from Wade's guilty plea to the TPM Document Collection. And Fromm has arrived in the Grand Ole Docket.)

Duke Deconstructed.

On Friday, Duke Cunningham's defense lawyers issued their Sentencing Memorandum, asking for six years incarceration. The memorandum included a psychiatric evaluation. Enter Duke's mind:

A psychiatrist says Randy “Duke” Cunningham's fall from Vietnam War hero to corrupt politician grew out of “an outsized ego and a mantle of invulnerability” that allowed him to rationalize his behavior.

That mindset evolved from a military career in which Cunningham was taught to embrace aggressive tactics and ignore danger signs and enabled him to perform heroically during the Vietnam War, the doctor said.

Those traits, imperative for fighter pilots, were so engrained in Cunningham that although he was expected to behave differently in Congress “the psyche cannot make such a U-turn easily,” said Dr. Saul Faerstein....

Faerstein said Cunningham's “extraordinary deeds in the service planted a subconscious sense of entitlement which fed his rationalization to accept these gifts for his sacrifices.”


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Mitchell Wade, owner of MZM, Inc. and part-owner of Duke Cunningham, will plead guilty today. He's been cooperating with prosecutors for months. As Josh notes, "we'll be very interested to see what gets mentioned in his plea agreement and how far (and how high -- as some close to the case have long speculated) he takes this into the Pentagon." We'll get you details as soon as we learn them.

But there is plenty of other muck to be had today: 

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The Russian connection gets stronger. 

Another subpoena has been issued in the Abramoff investigation.

The investigators want to know more about Jack Abramoff and his work for his Russian clients. He represented two top Naftasib executives, Alexander Koulakovsky and Marina Nevskaya. Naftasib is a Russian energy giant, and a major supplier to the Russian military.

But wait! There's more: investigators also want to know more about Tom DeLay's work for the Russians. This is the second subpoena to name DeLay. So no bones about it - he is under investigation.

From today's Boston Globe:

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