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Prosecutors Release Abramoff E-Mails

April 15, 2006|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A batch of 278 e-mails between lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a Bush administration official show a highly inappropriate relationship where gifts and business interests mixed freely and frequently, federal prosecutors said Friday.

The prosecutors hope to use the e-mails in the criminal case against David H. Safavian, who is accused of lying and obstruction of justice in connection with investigations of an Abramoff-sponsored golf outing to Scotland in August 2002.

The e-mails show that Abramoff and Safavian, then chief of staff at the General Services Administration, were in frequent contact, played golf often and traded workplace gossip.

Abramoff showered Safavian with offers of meals, invitations to parties as well as the trip to the famed St. Andrew's golf course in Scotland.

At the same time, Abramoff was peppering Safavian with questions and requests for his help on a variety of projects, including obtaining parcels of federal land that were managed by the General Services Administration for Abramoff's charitable groups.

Prosecutors and Safavian's lawyers are in a legal fight over how much of the material should be shown to the jury during Safavian's trial, which is scheduled to begin May 22.

Barbara Van Gelder, a lawyer for Safavian, described the court filing as "a press release that allows the government to place inadmissible hearsay documents into the public record right before trial."

Van Gelder said that although Abramoff offered Safavian meals, trips and sports tickets, the "evidence shows that Mr. Safavian either declined the offers or paid for the expense with his own money. There is no conspiracy. There is no agreement. This is the government's attempt to inflate a flat case with hot air."

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