Records reveal US Senator John Sununu had ties to convicted lobbyist

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

John E Sununu in 2006
Image: United States Senate.

On October 24, 2001, convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and four Alexander Strategies Group associates donated $1,000 each to the Rely on Your Beliefs Fund. This political action committee in turn donated $3,000 to Republican Representative John Sununu's primary campaign in New Hampshire on the same day, through the political action committee Team Sununu. The Greenberg Traurig lobbying company, which also employed Abramoff, gave $1000 to Team Sununu on December 16, 2002 for purposes of 'debt retirement.'

According to a report by the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Jack Abramoff commonly told Native American tribal clients to divert their funds through the Alexander Strategies Group. Earlier that October, Jack Abramoff had met with the legislative director of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe in Michigan. Representative John Sununu, now a sitting senator from New Hampshire, had served on the Appropriations Committee that helped draft the Department of Interior funding bill. In the section on Native American water claims, land claims, and miscellaneous payments, over $6,000,000 in funding was given to Michigan fishing in the Great Lakes.

The event occurred a day before the presentation of a Department of Interior funding bill to President George W. Bush for signing, and a week after the conference report settling differences between the House and the Senate. Abramoff wrote to fellow lobbyist Michael Scanlon on October 4, 2001 via e-mail, "I had dinner tonight with Chris Petras of Sag Chip. He was salivating at the $4-5 million program I described to him (is that enough? Probably not)." File:Jack Abramoff Jan1006.jpg

Jack Abramoff in 2006
Image: Voice of America.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Jack Abramoff was sentenced to four years in federal prison earlier this month. He had admitted to conspiring to defraud four Native American tribes that either operated or were interested in operating casinos. The other three donors to the fund linked to Sununu were all members of the Alexander Strategy Group, including its founder, former Tom DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham. Donor Jim Ellis had led the group Preston Gates & Ellis, which also employed Jack Abramoff. A fourth contributor was J. Thomas Smith, Jr., who had served as the Alexander Strategy Group's lawyer.

The Alexander Strategy Group was shut down in January due to ties with Jack Abramoff and former House majority leader Tom DeLay. The Rely On Your Beliefs Fund, owned by former Rep. Roy Blunt, has already donated to charity $8,500 equivalent to the amount personally contributed by Jack Abramoff in 2006. In November 2004, Gannett News Service had reported that Abromoff directed the Tigua tribe to contribute to the Rely On Your Beliefs Fund. In January 2006, John Sununu donated to charity $3000 he had received from the Saginaw Chipewa from the Daniel Webster PAC.


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