Published October 23, 2005
WASHINGTON – Jack Abramoff (search), the GOP lobbyist under investigation by federal authorities for fraud, repeatedly sought the help of Bush strategist Ralph Reed (search) to open doors at the White House for his business clients, according to e-mail made public Sunday.
The e-mails show that Abramoff pushed for intervention from deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove (search) on at least three occasions since 2001 to promote business opportunities.
Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition and a nominee in the 2006 race for Georgia's lieutenant governor, wrote back obliging responses, according to the e-mail obtained by Time magazine. The e-mail is now being reviewed by federal investigators, Time reported.
The e-mail show that 10 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Abramoff promoted a business venture to rent cruise ships to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house rescue workers off New York City.
Responding to Abramoff's request for help, Reed wrote on Sept. 21, 2001: "Put in a tag call to karl to find out the best contact at fema."
Four months later, Reed also wrote Abramoff to say that he was at a lunch with Rove at a Republican National Committee and would report the "substance shortly."
Abramoff immediately wrote back, seeking "serious swat from Karl" in hopes of getting $16 million released by the Justice Department to fund a jail that his Choctaw Indian (search) clients wished to build in Mississippi. Reed agreed to give Rove materials on behalf of the Choctaws, Time reported.
The cruise-ship deal was never accepted, while the Choctaws got the jail.
A spokeswoman for Reed, Lisa Baron, told Time that her boss receives request for help all the time and that he "does not recall following up on these matters." She did not return phone calls from The Associated Press seeking additional comment.
In a third set of e-mail, Reed acknowledges having "weighed in heavily" with the White House on behalf of Abramoff to block Angela Williams from being appointed head of the Interior Department's Office of Insular Affairs.
Williams is the wife of Orson Swindle (search), former member of the Federal Trade Commission and a Vietnam prisoner of war with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Abramoff, not satisfied, responds in a Dec. 5, 2001 e-mail: "Any ideas on how we can make sure she does not get it? Can you ping Karl on this?"
Reed writes back: "i am seeing him tomorrow at the WH and plan to discuss it with him as well."
Williams didn't get the appointment.
Congressional Democrats have raised questions about Abramoff's ties to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. Separately, Abramoff has pleaded innocent to a six-count federal fraud and conspiracy indictment stemming from his role in the 2000 purchase of a fleet of gambling boats in Florida.