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White House aide with ties to disgraced lobbyist resigns

White House aide with ties to disgraced lobbyist resigns

A key aide to presidential political strategist Karl Rove resigned Friday after a U.S. congressional report listed hundreds of contacts between disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the White House.
Susan Ralston, special assistant to President George W. Bush, submitted a resignation letter to him less than five weeks before Nov. 7 congressional elections in which corruption and scandal are emerging as key issues for voters.
"She did not want to be a distraction to the White House at such an important time and so we have accepted her resignation," White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said.
"We support her decision and consider the matter closed," Perino said.
Abramoff, once a high-powered Republican lobbyist, has pleaded guilty to fraud and is now cooperating with prosecutors in an influence peddling investigation that has rocked Congress. Critics have pointed to Ralston as evidence that Rove _ and thus Bush _ are possibly closer to Abramoff than the White House has acknowledged. Ralston was Abramoff's administrative assistant at his lobbying firm and, after Bush took office, assumed the same post with Rove.
The House Government Reform Committee last week issued a report saying that based on documents supplied by Abramoff's former lobbying firm, he had 485 lobbying contacts with White House officials over three years, including 10 with Rove. At the time, the White House said it was unclear whether all the listed contacts were legitimate because they were based on sometimes-sketchy information provided by Abramoff himself.
The report also said that Abramoff and his team offered White House officials tickets to 19 sporting events and concerts, and that Ralston was the most frequent recipient.
Perino said the resignation of Ralston, who helps organize and coordinate the day's events and message of the White House, follows a White House review of the congressional report.
"Our review of the House Government Reform Committee's report is complete," Perino said. "We expect nothing more after our thorough review. She recognized that a protracted discussion of these matters would be a distraction to the White House and she's chosen to step down."
Abramoff cultivated top leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives in an attempt to get legislation favored by his clients passed.


Updated : 2021-04-20 22:52 GMT+08:00