DNC: Martinez And Abramoff: The GOP's New Direction?
Washington, DC - With disgraced former GOP superlobbyist Jack Abramoff headed to jail yesterday, it is clear that Washington Republicans are not ready to abandon their culture of corruption. [AP, 11/15/06] In fact, new Republican National Committee Chairman Senator Mel Martinez, who used to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) earlier in the Bush Administration, also has ties to Abramoff. Martinez was directly lobbied by convicted former GOP Congressman Bob Ney on behalf of Abramoff's clients, who ultimately received millions from HUD. Martinez has also refused to return $250,000 that Abramoff helped raise for his Senate campaign in 2004.
"By picking Mel Martinez to head their party, Republicans have made it clear that they have no intention of ending their culture of corruption," said Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Stacie Paxton. "Before assuming his chairmanship, Martinez should answer the questions surrounding his dealings with convicted Republican Congressman Bob Ney, convicted Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates."
Charges Against Former Republican Congressman Bob Ney Highlight Role Of Martinez In Abramoff Scandal. "On repeated occasions in 2002 and 2003, NEY contacted personnel in United States Executive Branch agencies and offices in an effort to influence decisions of those agencies and offices at the request of Abramoff and his lobbyists, including advancing the interests of Abramoff's Native American Indian Tribal clients to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development [Martinez] ("HUD") in a meeting in or about January 2003, wherein NEY told the HUD Secretary that NEY's number one priority as the newly installed Chairman of the Housing Subcommittee was Native American Indian Tribal Housing." [http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/docs/bob-ney-charges/?resultpage=12&]
Martinez Won't Return $250,000 Raised For Him By Abramoff. "When U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez shed $2,500 in January that his campaign took from an Ohio congressman tied to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a spokeswoman said the Florida senator wanted no contributions with ‘even a hint of impropriety.' But Martinez continues to hold on to $250,000 that his 2004 campaign collected at a Washington kickoff fundraiser that was co-chaired and attended by the now disgraced lobbyist." [Miami Herald, 5/18/06]
Abramoff Lobbied For Saginaw Chippewa Tribe; Tribe Received $4 Million From HUD. "At the time, Martinez told The Miami Herald he didn't recognize any lobbyists in attendance who had done business at HUD. But U.S. Senate lobbyist disclosure records show that Abramoff was registered to lobby at HUD for the Michigan-based Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe during much of Martinez's tenure. ... The pots of HUD money that Abramoff sought to tap for the tribe, if any, aren't identified in the Senate records. A department spokesman, however, said that from 2002 to 2004, HUD awarded the casino-wealthy tribe about $4 million, including $400,000 earmarked in 2003 for facilities for a crime-victim program." [Miami Herald, 5/18/06]