The ripples from the Abramoff lobbying scandal that enveloped Washington, D.C., and its insiders continues to expand, even after observers thought it was over.
A new report this week from Main Justice, which focuses its reporting on the inner workings of the U.S. Justice Department, has a startling new revelation about one of the side players in the situation.
The report from David Baumann said that lobbyist Kevin Ring, who was convicted for his lobbying activities, is reporting that he was pressured by federal prosecutors to lie about some of the circumstances, including the involvement of then-Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif.
The scandal involved nearly two dozen people and included allegations of payoffs and financial favors in exchange for political favors. Abramoff, whose new book, “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist,” is coming out in a few weeks, served a couple of years for his actions.
His memoir reveals that many of the fascinating facts about his case are either unknown or misunderstood.
Abramoff represented Indian tribes whose lucrative casinos were constantly under threat from proposed changes in law; though he charged the tribes many millions, he saved them billions by ensuring votes to support the livelihoods of their reservations.
Much of Abramoff’s share was funneled not into his own coffers, but to charities, and the book reveals that the Abramoff on the front pages could not be further from the Abramoff who’s ready to tell his honest and compelling story.
Ring was accused of conspiring with Abramoff and others to corrupt public officials. Accusations included claims of lavishing sports tickets and meals on lawmakers and executive branch officials.
The Main Justice report said Ring explained federal prosecutors dangled the possibility of a lenient deal if would make statements implicating Doolittle. The report said Ring documented that prosecutors “made it clear what I needed to say to get a deal.”
According to the report, he continued, “The prosecutors wanted me to say that Congressman Doolittle took official acts to help my clients because I gave him a stream of things of value, and if I had stopped giving him such things, he would have stopped taking official acts (or, at least, taken fewer acts). Saying these things would have been a flat-out lie.”
“It became clear at a certain point that since I was not willing to incriminate Congressman Doolitle and others that I was going to pay a heavy price,” Ring wrote in the letter, according to the report.
Justice Department officials said they would respond to the situation in a courtroom setting.
Ring was associated with Abramoff while both were at two law firms in Washington. His convictions a year ago involved paying an illegal gratuity, wire fraud and conspiracy.
The conclusion of the jury was that Ring provided tickets to sporting events and expensive meals to public officials to try to influence their actions.
He did not testify at trial, but now has written to District Judge Ellen Huvell that, “I was not only being asked to lie about my actions and my relationship with Congressman Doolittle (and others, as I came to learn), but I believed that I was being asked to condemn a person to prison. … I had no doubt then and even less today that my false testimony could have sent the congressman, Julie and perhaps some on his staff to jail for crimes I did not think any of them had committed,” according to the Main Justice report.