Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Safavian Affidavit

They didn't wait long enough to draw one honest breath before corrupting the system to line their own pockets.
Yesterday's arrest warrant for the Bush Administration's kingpin federal property manager, David Safavian, was based on a 14-page affidavit by F.B.I. agent Jeffrey Reising. Raw Story is the first to publish the entire affidavit on line.

Key portions of the F.B.I. affidavit quote from private emails exchanged among Safavian, Jack Abramoff, and Abramoff associates. Abramoff, of course, is "an influential Washington 'super' lobbyist and conservative activist" close to both George Bush and House Speak Tom Delay.

Apart from the issue of legal guilt or innocence, the emails reveal on the part of Abramoff, Safavian, and the rest of their associates a level of "me first" greed, betrayal, depraved indifference to the public interest, and bald-faced lying that is dispiriting. They didn't wait long enough to draw one honest breath before they began corrupting government to line their own pockets.

The affidavit alleges in part:
17. On or about May 16, 2002, Safavian became Chief of Staff of GSA.

18. By May, 2002, Lobbyist A [well known to be Abramoff] was seeking to find a new location for Entity A. On May 24, 2002, Lobbyist A sent an e-mail to Safavian's home e-mail address asking if GSA had property available for a school.

19. On June 14, 2002, Lobbyist A notified one of his lobbying colleagues via e-mail that Safavian "was going to join us in Scotland." The lobbyist replied, "Why Dave? I like him but didn't U did as much. Business angle?" Lobbyist A replied back on June 15, 2002, "Total business angle. He is new COS of GSA."
After additional inquiries from Abramoff to Safavian about various federal properties he wanted for himself, using his private home email address Safavian gave him a status update, shared information that would give Abramoff preference and a cover story using his Indian tribe gaming clients, and urged him to "ramp up on this as it is progressing. Let's discuss."

Over the next two months, the affidavit details, Abramoff asked for and received Savanian's personal assistance in arranging a surreptious visit to federal property he wanted, calculating which congressmen could be approached (and corrupted) for help, and plotted using various decoys like a "short term lease" to get Abramoff's nose under the federal property tent.

Invited onto a private plane for the golfing trip to Scotland, on July 25, 2002, Safavian went through the motions of asking for an internal government ethics opinion "regarding his acceptance of free air fare" for the trip. But he lied outrageously in framing the ethics issue.
"I (along with [two] members of Congress and a few Congressional staff) have been invited by a friend and former colleague on a trip to Scotland to play golf for four days. * * * The host of the trip is chartering a private jet to take the eight of us from BWI to Scottland [sic] and back. He is paying the cost of the aircraft regardless whether I go or not. In fact, none of the other guest [sic] will be paying a proportional share of the aircraft costs."
* * *
"One other point of relevance: The host is a lawyer and a lobbyist but one that has no business before GSA (he does all his work on Capitol Hill.)"
There's much, much more to the F.B.I. affidavit... How Safavian met secretly with Abramoff. How he personally lobbied GSA personnel internally to grease the deals for Abramoff. How Safavian assisted Abramoff in drafting necessary documents, secretly disclosed government documents to him, arranged business meetings for him, suggested Abramoff's wife should be used as a front and that she should use her maiden name to hide Abramoff's role, etc. etc. etc.

Mr. Bush appointed Safavian over three years ago to the critical job of setting policy for all federal contracting, including the Bush-beloved "privatizing" of federal property and services. Like the disgraced former FEMA director, Mike Brown, there was nothing in his education, training, or experience to recommend him for the job -- except loyalty and hefty campaign donations to Mr. Bush. Just days ago -- when the White House had to have known he was about to be criminally charged -- Safavian was given added responsibility, as the New York Times reports, for "working on developing contracting policies for the multibillion-dollar relief effort after Hurricane Katrina."

Is there anyone who thinks whatever yokel Mr. Bush appoints next to that job is likely to be any better -- or more honest?

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