As you probably know, we've spent a bit of ink over the last few months knocking around Mark Graul. He's the campaign manager for Rep. Mark Green (R) who's now running for Governor of Wisconsin. And Graul's name popped up in a series of Team Abramoff emails getting tickets for various events in DC in 2000 and 2001 at Jack Abramoff's skyboxes.
In most cases the emails were to or from Jennifer Calvert, another lobbyist at Abramoff's then-firm, Preston Gates who worked with Abramoff on Native American issues. (She's now at another shop called Washington Strategies.)
There've been a series of back and forths in posts here and in article in the Wisconsin press about this. But today I finally got a chance to chat with Mark.
So which of the events did he go to and how did it all shake out?
"I went to the one Bucks game with Jennifer Calvert," said Graul. "I didn't go to the other events. I wasn't even in DC. Jennifer said it was a perfunctory matter. She may not have even asked me. And I certainly wasn't available to go."
That's pretty much what Graul told the Journal-Sentinel last week.
Now, we said this in our initial posts. But let me take this opportunity to restate some key points. What we know about Mark Graul, Jennifer Calvert and all this ticket business is all bounded within the four walls of the half dozen emails we published here back in October.
In one of the emails Calvert tells Jack Abramoff's executive assistant, Susan Ralston, that she "got a request from Mark Graul" for tickets to the NBA all start game. Another email has a docket of who was given tickets for a professional wrestling event. Graul's name shows up for two. The other four emails are each one permutation or another of Calvert writing to Abramoff or Ralston and asking (this is a paraphrase, of course), 'Hey, can I get this or that number of tickets for Mark Graul?'
Now, here's the key point. Do I know whether Calvert picked up the tickets from Abramoff's office? No. Do I know whether she actually gave them to Graul? No. If Graul got them, do I know he went to the event? No idea.
If Graul says he only went to one of the events, there's nothing in the emails to prove otherwise. And I take him at his word.
I'm not trying to be overly cute about this. I'm just trying to be precise. The emails are there to read. You're in as good a position to interpret them as I am.