FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 5, 2006

11 Cabinet Heads Respond To Senate Democrats’ Request To Disclose All Abramoff Meetings, Memos, Favors And Ties

Many Cabinet Officials Who Received Inquiries in January Have Not Yet Responded to Democratic Leaders’ Letters

Norton Response Raises Serious Questions About Abramoff Connections at Interior Department, Education Secretary Advised Not to Respond by Counsel

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer joined by Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Leader Dick Durbin, and Senator Debbie Stabenow sent a follow-up letter today to high-level Bush Administration officials asking them to fully disclose their dealings with indicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The Senate Democratic leaders first urged top-level Bush Administration officials to disclose all their meetings, memos, favors and ties with Jack Abramoff in January. A number of Administration officials responded, but those who have not received a follow up letter today.

Schumer’s office also has called to follow up with each cabinet office to see if responses were forthcoming. Some departments claimed they never received such a letter (Office of Management and Budget and Housing and Urban Development), others said they were looking for the letter or waiting for the response to be approved (Department of Labor and Department of Veterans’ Affairs), and the Department of Education said that they were advised by their counsel not to respond to the inquiry.

The following is the text of one of the letters sent today:

May 5, 2006
Mr. Joshua B. Bolten
Chief of Staff
Office of the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Bolten:

In January, we sent letters to President Bush and his Cabinet, asking that he and all Cabinet members detail whatever contact they might have had with Jack Abramoff, or any involvement they might have had in the “K Street Project.”

A number of your Cabinet colleagues quickly responded to our request, but we have not yet heard from you. Because so many of your colleagues have already responded, it is increasingly important that you also disclose any relevant information so the full record of this Administration becomes clear, one way or the other. Thus far, we have received responses from:


• The Honorable Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security
• The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
• The Honorable Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General
• The Honorable Samuel W. Bodman, Secretary of Energy
• The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta, Secretary of Transportation
• The Honorable Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce
• The Honorable Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior
• The Honorable Mike Johanns, Secretary of Agriculture
• The Honorable Robert Portman, U.S. Trade Representative
• The Honorable Stephen Johnson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
• The Honorable John P. Walters, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

All of the above-listed members of the President’s Cabinet have essentially stated that they have no recollection of any contact with Mr. Abramoff. It would benefit the public greatly to hear from you as well; silence on this issue is likely to only further the perception that the American people have yet to hear the full story. To reiterate our original request, we are simply asking that you detail all of your personal contacts with Mr. Abramoff during your time in the Bush Administration. If you know of others in the Administration who had such contacts, we ask that you please disclose those as well. Please also detail any official acts that have been undertaken on behalf of or at the request of Mr. Abramoff. Additionally, we ask that you reveal any involvement in the “K Street Project,” the initiative launched in recent years by Republicans close to this Administration who have worked hard to increase the ties between lobbyists such as Mr. Abramoff and Republican elected officials.

Regardless of whether or not there has been any contact between President Bush’s Cabinet members and Mr. Abramoff, we feel it is important that the record be set straight. We urge you to respond and come forward with any potentially relevant information. We anxiously await your response.

Sincerely,


Harry Reid
Dick Durbin
Charles E. Schumer
Debbie Stabenow

Bush Administration Officials receiving the letter who have NOT responded yet:
• David Addington, Chief of Staff to the Vice President
• Secretary Margaret Spellings, Department of Education
• Secretary Michael O. Leavitt, Department of Health & Human Services
• Secretary Alphonso Jackson, Department of Housing & Urban Development
• Secretary Elaine Chao, Department of Labor
• Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Department of State
• Secretary John Snow, Department of Treasury
• Secretary Jim Nicholson, Department of Veterans Affairs
• Richard B. Cheney, Vice President
• Joshua B. Bolten, Office of Management and Budget

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