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An e-mail trail of money and influence

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Lobbyist Jack Abramoff was, in his own word, "jazzed."

It was Sept. 25, 2001, and the night before he'd attended a small Georgetown dinner given by a Republican environmental group. He'd hobnobbed there with Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and Deputy Secretary Steven Griles - two of the most important officials in the government, as far as Mr. Abramoff's Indian tribe clients were concerned.

Now it was the day after, and time for a little relationship cultivation.

"The event last night was outstanding!!" he wrote in an 11:54 a.m. e-mail to Italia Federici, president of the group, the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy. "Bravo! ... I have a fantastic box at the Redskins stadium. How about you come this Sunday and see it (invite Steve to come with his family also), and we'll all discuss my doing a fund raiser there for you guys?

"Let me know as soon as you can ... I think [Attorney General John] Ashcroft and his guys will also be there. 1PM game," Abramoff concluded.

The case of Jack Abramoff, disgraced super-lobbyist, provides an unprecedented look at the way Washington really works.

That doesn't mean everyone on K Street is corrupt, as Abramoff and his former partner, public relations consultant Michael Scanlon, now have admitted they were. The pair's "Gimme Five" scheme, in which Abramoff steered business to Mr. Scanlon in return for a 50 percent kickback, was unique - and felonious.

But US investigations of Abramoff and Scanlon produced pointillistic detail about their daily political activities, much of which were perfectly legal. Hundreds of pages of e-mails and congressional testimony released by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs trace the pair as they scrabble for access, scratch backs, beg for money, and dole out contributions in return.


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