Okay, so where were we on finding examples of contacts and chummification between Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay after February 2001 when DeLay allegedly called Jack into his capitol hill office and told him "I want no more dealings with you"?
This, remember, is the account the Post passed on over the weekend, absent any rebuttal, notwithstanding the voluminous public record showing the claim to be false.
So, to the details.
TPM Reader BB points out the $20,000 that Abramoff and his wife Pamela gave to DeLay's leadership PAC ARMPAC in the 2002 and 2004 campaign cycles. But really Abramoff and his wife and his myriad clients gave so much money that I don't even know where to start.
One example is how Abramoff had the Mississippi Choctaws give $6,000 to TRMPAC. And TRMPAC didn't even come into existence until eight months after the DeLay/Abramoff showdown.
Looking over the data it occurred to me that DeLay may have once again been the victim of sloppy reporting, as news outlet after news outlet continued to claim that he was extremely close to Abramoff even though he had dramatically washed his hands of the man.
On March 25th, 2002, as one example of this lousy reporting, USNews spotlighted the battle of the lobbyists between Haley Barbour and Abramoff and called one of Abramoff's trump cards the fact that he was "a big pal of Rep. Tom DeLay."
The weird thing is that Grover Norquist, who was tight with both DeLay and Abramoff (and got tons of cash funneled to him from the latter), was apparently totally in the dark about the falling out too. In April 2002, for instance, Norquist gushed to the Times about how tight Abramoff was with DeLay. "He walks in to see DeLay and DeLay knows that he is representing clients whose views are in sync with DeLay's views."
If Norquist was so out of the loop, you probably can't blame Tom Hamburger and Jim Vandehei for blowing it too. On May 23rd, 2002, in the The Wall Street Journal, they noted that Abramoff was "helping raise money for Mr. DeLay." And apparently even DeLay wasn't quite clear the relationship had gone sour, since he was still asking Abramoff for free meals that same month.
Even the folks who cover the hill full-time were out of the loop. On August 15th, 2002, writing in the Washington Business Forward, Roll Call's John Bresnahan noted Abramoff's "close ties to prominent conservatives like soon-to-be Majority Leader Tom DeLay" as key to Jack's political juice.
And, yes, a few months later, on December 9th, 2002, The Legal Times still thought DeLay's was Abramoff's "friend and political ally." They may have been thrown off the scent by Bresnahan's poor reporting.
As we got more and more examples of DeLay/Abramoff encounters, I started to think that DeLay might be like one of those people we all know who tries to break it off with an abusive or exploiting love interest, but just can't stick to their guns when the baddie comes back to them with that same old sweet talkin'.
That may have been what happened in June 2003, when, according to the Post, Abramoff got DeLay to write a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton on behalf of his client, the Louisiana Coushattas. DeLay even got it co-signed by Hastert, Blunt and Cantor. Even the lobbyist who Abramoff outwitted with that coup had to marvel at what Jack could make happen. "I do this for a living," V. Heather Sibbison told the Post, "and I have never seen a letter like that before. It was incredibly unusual for that group of people, who do not normally weigh in on Indian issues, to express such a strong opinion about a particular project not in any of their home states."
I'm not sure whether that was just after or just before Abramoff introduced DeLay at that year's College Republican National Convention. But that may have been part of the new romancing.
Not surprisingly, after that summer relapse, by October 16th, 2003, the Post's Juliet Eilperin had gotten the wrong impression and wrote that Abramoff was still a "lobbyist who advises DeLay."
From what I could tell it was only after the law started to come after Abramoff in early 2004 that most reporters finally got it through their thick heads that DeLay didn't want anything to do with the guy.