I interviewed John Shadegg today, and his responses on Abramoff combined with his policy positions on the GWOT, ANWR, border security, McCain Feingold and earmarks persuade me that Congressman Shadegg is the right man to lead the GOP Conference. If you agree, call your Republican Congressman and request their support for Shadegg’s candidacy. The Hill switchboard: 202-225-3121. Here’s the open of the interview:
HH: What exactly are your ties, if any, to Jack Abramoff’s various operations?
JS: Hugh, I had no ties directly to Jack Abramahoff. I have never met him, wouldn’t know him. I guess now that I have seen his picture in the paper, I would know him if he walked in the room, and I hope he doesn’t, but I did not know him and have not known him in my tenure in Washiongton.
HH: Were you ever entertained at any of his skyboxes and if so, how often?
JS: Yes. Let me walk through that. There was a young man that worked for the Republican Study Committee which is kind of the organization of conservatives in the U.S. House, who was, he had been a staff director on the Hill for a while, and then he went to work as the staff director of the Republican Study Committee. That was the group of conservative members of Congress. It was kind of the bechmark, or the biggest organization of conservatives in the House. He left that, he left that position and he went, apparently, I didn’t know this, he went to work for the firmm where Jack Abramoff was and apparently started working with Mr. Abramoff. After he left and went to work in the firm where Mr. Abramoff was, he came back to me on I believe two occasions, maybe three occasions, and proposed that I do a fundraiser at, I guess, the MCI center. Did not mention Jack Abramoff, mentioned the name of his firm, and said “Look, our firm has this skybox, and we will make it available to you and the firm will in-kind the box to you, and it will be a good fundraising event for you.” We did that on three different occasions. Unbeknownst to me, the firm didn’t in fact own the skybox. I don’t even know today who owned the skybox. What I have learned is that what Mr. Abramoff did, was he got Indian tribes to in-kind the value of the skybox to whomever used it on those occasions. When we discovered that,susequently, we returned, last year, to each, to the the Indian tribe we knew about, we returned the value of those in-kind contributions, when we realized there was a link to Jack Abramoff. We did it last year before Mr. Abramoff was indicted.
HH: That’s good news. What was the name of the young staffer?
JS: His name was Kevin Ring.
HH: Did you ever have signature privileges at his restaurant, Signatures?
JS: (laughing) Oh no. I never had signature privilegees at his restaurant. Kevin…
HH: Last question…
JS: Kevin Ring also made two different personal contributions to me, and he got the firm’s political action committee to make a contribution to me. I believed those were all driven by the fact that Kevin Ring had been the staff director of this very solidly conservative organization. Again, when we learned of the link of that organization to Mr. Abramoff, we did not give the money back to Mr. Ring nor did we give it back to the firm’s political action committee. We donated that money to an anti-gambling organization in Washington, D.C.
HH:: Great, proactive answers. Have you vetted your staff, Congressman, on their ties to Abramoff, and his operations?
JS: Pardon me?
HH: Have you vetted your staff to make sure that none of them have compromised…
JS: Yes, we have vetted our entire office on contacts with or ties to Mr. Abramoff.