White House logs of Abramoff visits to be released

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Editor's note: On May 11, the Associated Press reported that the released records showed convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff went to the White House twice in the past five years, although the White House has acknowledged three additional visits.

WASHINGTON — A federal court has ordered the Secret Service to release copies
of White House logs to determine how often allies and associates of convicted
lobbyist Jack Abramoff visited the Executive Mansion.

Judicial Watch, a conservative public-interest watchdog group in Washington,
announced last week that Judge John Garrett Penn of the U.S. District Court for
the District of Columbia had told the Secret Service it must release the records
unedited tomorrow.

In January Judicial Watch filed a
Freedom of Information request with the Secret Service, asking for “all White
House visitor logs from January 1, 2001 reflecting the entry and exit of
Abramoff from the White House,” the group said on its Web site.

“The public deserves to know the level of contact that Mr. Abramoff had with
the White House,” the group asserted in its FOIA request.

After the Secret Service acknowledged Judicial Watch's FOIA request but
failed to produce the logs, the group filed a lawsuit in February.

Judicial Watch said it would make the logs available to the public on its Web

In a separate lawsuit, the Democratic National Committee is also asking for
records of White House visits by conservative activist Grover Norquist and Ralph
Reed, a GOP candidate for lieutenant governor of Georgia.

The Democrats also are asking for logs that show visits by three former
Abramoff business associates: Michael Scanlon, who has pleaded guilty in a
corruption scandal; David Safavian, a former Bush administration official who is
under indictment in connection with Abramoff; and Patrick Pizzella, an assistant
secretary of labor.

The Democrats filed the lawsuit “to compel the Bush administration to stop
the stonewalling and finally be forthcoming with details regarding the White
House's level of involvement in the Abramoff scandal,” said Democratic National
Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur said the agency had no comment on that
lawsuit because its lawyers had not seen it.

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