It looks like Sarah Palin's claim to represent a cleaner brand of politics could be about to take a bruising.
The Washington Post reports today that, while Mayor of Wasilla, Palin oversaw the hiring of a lobbyist, Steven Silver -- a former chief of staff to now-indicted GOP senator Ted Stevens -- to help win federal earmarks for the city.
But Silver appears to have additional ties that could further undercut Palin's image as a squeaky-clean reformer. According to Senate lobbying disclosure reports examined by TPMmuckraker, from 2002 to 2004 Silver listed as a client Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig. On Greenberg's behalf, Silver lobbied the federal government on "issues relating to Indian/Native American policy," "exploration for oil and gas" and "legislation relating to gaming issues" -- the very issues that Abramoff headed up for Greenberg at the time. In other words, Silver appears to have been a part of "Team Abramoff."
Indeed, one specific bill that Silver lobbied on for Greenberg, according to the forms, was S.627, also known as the Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act. A former Greenberg lobbyist confirmed to TPMmuckraker that Silver would have been working to oppose the bill. And it was an earlier version of this very bill that Abramoff famously worked to spike, with the support of Christian conservative leaders Lou Sheldon and Ralph Reed.
There's additional evidence of ties between Silver and Abramoff. Emails released by a House committee in 2006 as part of a probe of Abramoff show the now-disgraced lobbyist scheduling a meeting with Silver in 2001.
Silver is a member of the Anchorage-based law firm of Robertson, Monacle, and Eastaugh, which the Post describes as having "close ties" to Stevens, and Alaska Congressman Don Young, who's under federal investigation for allegedly taking bribes. Since 2005, Silver has contributed $3500 each to Stevens and Young, according to campaign contributions records posted at CampaignMoney.com.
This is far from the first time that Abramoff's trail of corruption has led to Alaska. Last year, Mark Zachares, a former aide to Young, pleaded guilty to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts from Abramoff in return for using his position to advance Abramoff's goals.
Silver did not immediately return a call requesting comment.