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2 Tied to Abramoff Paid White House 100 Visits

Records reveal regular meetings over five years with Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed.

September 21, 2006|James Gerstenzang | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Republican activists Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed have visited the White House more than 100 times since 2001, according to documents made available by the White House on Wednesday.

The documents were released in response to litigation intended to make public the participation in White House meetings by people associated with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

All told, nine people associated with Abramoff or others linked to recent corruption scandals paid 236 visits to the White House from 2001 to the beginning of 2006, according to the records.

The account of the visits fleshes out well-established connections between figures in the Abramoff scandal and the White House. But it also suggests the regularity of White House meetings involving Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition, who, like Norquist, has long been active in conservative politics.

The records show that Norquist was cleared for 97 White House visits and Reed 18.

A Senate investigation reported in June that Abramoff worked with Norquist and Reed to help fund an Indian tribe's lobbying on gambling issues.

The records were released to the Democratic National Committee and the Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to settle litigation that followed requests for the records under the Freedom of Information Act.

Although President Bush attended some of the meetings, there was no indication that they involved one-on-one sessions with the president. According to a summary compiled by a White House official, the president attended 11 of the sessions -- some of them with groups of 300 or more people and one of them a holiday party in December 2004.

Among those whose White House visits were made public were Tony Rudy and Neil G. Volz.

Rudy, who was an aide to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), pleaded guilty in federal court here to a charge of conspiracy in connection with the Abramoff scandal. He admitted accepting favors, cash and other gifts while working in DeLay's House leadership office and after leaving to become a lobbyist.

Volz, once a top aide to Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and then an associate of Abramoff, admitted that he took illegal gifts while he was a federal employee and that as a lobbyist, he gave illegal gifts to Ney and his former colleagues, prosecutors said in detailing his plea agreement.

Ney acknowledged his guilt Friday in a plea agreement that said he had accepted tens of thousands of dollars in illegal favors from Abramoff and from a Syrian businessman.

According to a summary of the visits, Rudy made 13 trips to the White House. It was not disclosed with whom he met. Volz was cleared for 18 visits, but one of those -- a session with the president to which 406 people were cleared to take part -- was scheduled for Sept. 11, 2001. It did not take place.

The Democratic National Committee, announcing that the White House had turned over the records, complained that as a result of changes in policies regarding documentation of visits, it had not received a full account.


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