05 May 2005

Unpaid Bills

Bush Florida 2000 recount committee still owes lobbyist's former firm $314k White House directs queries to RNC

John Byrne - May 5, 2005

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

If so, the photograph taken of President George W. Bush and embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was priceless—the windswept DeLay strutting down the tarmac beside the president, two Republican leaders rankled by political setbacks joined at the hip.

There’s a backstory that lurks behind Bush’s decision to stand by DeLay. It involves Greenberg Traurig, the firm that employed the powerful lobbyist who paid for palatial DeLay junkets, and Abramoff staffers, who were footsoldiers in the Florida recount. Greenberg Traurig has yet to receive more than $314,000 in legal fees charged to a Bush committee during the 2000 Florida recount, RAW STORY can confirm.

As a corporation, Greenberg’s unpaid tab represents a massive in-kind campaign contribution, far larger than anything that went unreported by DeLay. But it appears to be legal: corporations are allowed to donate any amount to the nebulous type of committee employed during the recount. It would, however, violate the committee's self-imposed $5,000 contribution limit from individual donors.

[...] After the recount, Bush’s team complained Greenberg charged exorbitant fees.

"What you've got here is a bunch of rich lawyers bellyaching," one former Bush official told Newsweek. "Yet these guys got huge in-kind contributions to their reputations out of this."

Abramoff partners bragged of recount role

Indeed, some members of the firm mention their roles in the recount in their biographies to this day. In a release last year, Greenberg dubbed themselves “the international law firm that successfully represented President George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election litigation.”

Four of Abramoff’s colleagues—all of whom have left Greenberg in the wake of investigations surrounding Abramoff’s activities—were foot soldiers in the Florida recount. Two of them bragged of their recount work on their official online Greenberg biographies, which have since been removed.

Shawn Vasell noted that he was a “team leader” in Broward and Duval counties in his bio; Duane Gibson was photographed in the acclaimed “Brooks Brothers riot” of Republican operatives outside the Miami-Dade County polling headquarters; Todd Boulanger boasted of being on the Broward and Duval recount team in his profile. Also on the ground was former DeLay deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy.


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