Monday, November 06, 2006

Did Abramoff throw expensive holiday party for Pombo and staff in 2004?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Abramoff threw an "expensive party" over the 2004 holidays for Pombo and the Resources Committee staff:

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company: Abstracts
Information Bank Abstracts
December 30, 2005, Friday

SECTION: Section A; Page 4, Column 6
LENGTH: 33 words

House Resources Committee will hold potluck holiday party in hearing room this year; committee chmn Richard Pombo and staff last year were treated to expensive party by lobbyist Jack Abramoff (S)

LOAD-DATE: December 30, 2005
That would be pretty condemning of Pombo, who claims that he hardly knew Abramoff, but then we have the guy playing Santa Claus to him and his staff.

This was first reported at e pluribus media and cross-posted at Daily Kos, where it has garnered 55 comments.

But did it actually happen? If so, Pombo and Brian Kennedy have some explaining to do. Or are the bloggers over-reacting? I am as anxious as anyone to nail Pombo, and I do believe he and his staff had a much closer relationship with Abramoff and his lobbyists than they are admitting to. But here is why I am cautious on this one. In another article on the Web, which is only available in the Google cache, it says the quote from the WSJ was actually this:
DOWNSIZING: Two years ago, House Resources Chairman Pombo of California and his staff were treated to an expensive holiday party at Jack Abramoff's Signatures restaurant. This year, the committee holds a potluck holiday party in a hearing room on Capitol Hill.
The difference is that the WSJ abstract says "treated .. BY Jack Abramoff" and puts it in Dec, 2004, whereas this one is "an expensive holiday party AT Jack Abramoff's restaurant" and puts it in Dec. 2003.

That is a big difference, and I don't have the tools here to find out which version is correct, or if in fact there was a party in 2003 and in 2004.

But I spoke with someone who spoke directly with Pombo. Pombo claims that his staff chose Signatures for the 2003 holiday party because it was the trendy place to go at the time. Pombo said he only attended that party briefly because he had the White House Christmas Party to attend. He also claimed Abramoff was not there. In addition, there is a record in Open Secrets of a Feb 2004 Pombo expenditure for $900 something as a reimbursement to Signatures.

So is the Wall Street Journal abstract correct that there was another holiday party BY Jack Abramoff in 2004? Or is there another explanation? I really don't know, but do recognize that the abstract writer could have screwed up the actual quote. Anyone got a copy of the Dec. 30, 2005, Wall Street Journal laying around?

As for the bloggers vs Pombo: who is being naughty and who is being nice here? Time for Santa Claus to make his list and then check it twice.

I just hope Christmas comes early this year, like on Nov. 7, when the Grinch (Pombo) is thrown out of office!


Blogger Eric said...

Wtf. I’m on tha ground here in Stocktown right now, but anybody who know how to use a microfiche reader should be able to run down to their local library and read a copy of the Dec. 30 Journal relatively easily.

1:57 PM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

I found someone with a copy of the Journal -- the bloggers got this one wrong, unfortunately. The second quote that above the begins "DOWNSIZING" is the right one, and the abstract is wrong.

2:59 PM, November 06, 2006  

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