Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) put out a statement last night in response to our report that, according to a federal indictment, her office played a role in the corruption scheme headed by now-jailed ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
TPMmuckraker reported yesterday
that excerpts from emails included in the indictment of Kevin Ring, a former Abramoff crony, identify a Wilson staffer as being actively involved in helping Abramoff's lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig, retain its contract with the Sandia Pueblo Indian tribe. We also noted that a member of Ring's lobbying team -- likely Abramoff himself -- believed he had the power to influence Rep. Wilson's decisions with regard to a land deal the tribe was seeking, according to the email excerpts, and that the Wilson staffer received tickets to an LA Clippers basketball game from Ring.
In response, Rep. Wilson says in her statement:
I was completely unaware until today of any former staffer's e-mails ... I have not been contacted by the Department of Justice about this matter at any time.
Regarding the March 2003 e-mails between two rogue lobbyists concerning whether they would continue to be retained by the Pueblo, I am not sure whether to be amused or offended that they were operating under the delusion that I would help them retain their contract, or that losing their contract would hurt the Pueblo's longstanding relationship with me. As my constituents, I represent the Pueblo regardless of who they hire to represent them. At no time did I take any action on behalf of Greenberg Traurig with Sandia Pueblo
In reference to the Clippers tickets, the statement adds: "We have very strict rules in our office on gifts -- including tickets to events. We train our staff about House ethics rules and we enforce those rules up to and including dismissal."