Lawyers, ethics watchdogs, hill staffers and you at home can help with some open-source investigative reporting. As you know, Jack Abramoff rented skyboxes at several DC area sports and entertainment complexes, which he used to dole out favors, goodies and fundraising assistance to Republican members of Congress and their staffs. Recently I've been working my way through records from Preston Gates (Abramoff's firm before he decamped to Greenberg Traurig) which detail which staffers and members got tickets to what events, who they brought with them and so forth.
Now, for instance, below is a roster from Abramoff's assistant Susan Ralston which goes in to who got to go to the "WWF Raw is War" event on October 2nd, 2000. (Click here to see the full size copy just added to the TPM Document Collection.)
This one includes staffers from Reps. Forbes, Lazio, Pombo, Green of Wisconsin, McKeon, Blunt, Sens, Smith and <$Ad$> Chafee, and one staffer from the House Rules Committee, Celeste West.
So a few questions.
For you Hill folks, how commonplace is this up there -- a lobbyist who routinely gives free tickets to ball games and concerts and even professional wrestling events to staffers from the offices of helpful members of Congress?
Several of the staffers on the roster for the "WWF Raw is War" shindig show up getting skybox tickets again and again just during 2000. A lawyer familiar with the Preston Gates records and the Abramoff skybox operation says there's no sign any of them ever reimbursed or paid for the tickets. So how does that square with Congressional ethics rules? A problem?