A few days back we posted this list of congressional staffers who got tickets to watch professional wrestling at one of Jack Abramoff's skyboxes back on October 2nd, 2000.
One of the worthies on the list was Mark Graul, then Chief of Staff to Representative Mark Green (R) of Wisconsin.
Green is now running for Governor. And Graul is his Campaign Manager.
I know this because a Wisconsin political blog has picked up our story and asked Graul what the deal was.
And Graul denied the whole thing.
Wisopinion.com reports that Graul said he did not attend said wrestling smackdown in the Abramoff skybox and: "I've never met Jack Abramoff in my life. He could come up and punch me in the face and I wouldn't know. I don't know why I'm on that list."
Now, do we have proof that Graul showed up at the skybox that night?
What we have are Team Abramoff emails saying he was one of the lucky Hill staffers who they gave tickets to. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.
Now, I noticed that Graul didn't deny he and his boss were on the Abramoff gravy train. He just said he didn't go to the skybox that night and that he's never met Abramoff -- presumably meaning he never met him in person.
So I looked back through the emails to see if Graul shows up on other occasions. And it turns out that his name shows up in the Team Abramoff emails getting skybox seats again and again.
So for instance on January 12th, 2000 Team Abramoff's Jennifer Calvert emailed Susan Ralston to get Mark tickets to see the Wizards-Bucks game on February 22nd.
"May I get four tickets to this game for Mark Graul, COS for Rep. Green? If that works, I'd like to get two for myself as well, to host Mark. Thanks."
"Ok w/Jack" Ralston wrote back the following morning.
A month later, Calvert got Graul two tickets for the upcoming Wizards-Suns game.
Graul wasn't just up for basketball games and wrestling either. In November we see Calvert putting him in for two tickets to see Limp Bizkit, Godsmack and DMX at the MCI Center. ("I'll add [them] to the list. Will confirm shortly," Ralston replied.)
I won't bore you with all the examples of Graul partying it up on Jack Abramoff's dime. And it wasn't like he got tickets every time he asked.
For instance, here on November 28th, 2000 Calvert wrote again to Ralston and Abramoff with another Mark Graul request.
"I got a request from Mark Graul, COS for Rep. Green, for tickets for the NBA all star game and the dunk contest that is apparently going to be at the MCI Center in early February. Can we honor his request? I'd also like to request 2 more tickets for a big basketball fan, Byron Patterson with Representative Don Young."
This time Jack left Mark hanging.
Abramoff himself wrote back: "We don't know yet what we are going to do with the suite that night. Put him on the list and we'll figure it out."
Who knows how that one worked out. But it sure seems like Graul was a regular with Team Abramoff.