I did not have sex with that man!
Abramoff, the GOP loyalist who White House spokesman Scott McClellan claims Bush doesn’t know, was a key player in Bush’s transition team after the disputed 2000 Presidential election. Abramoff, working on Interior Department transition issues, attended a number of meetings with Bush during the transition.
“Bush tapped Abramoff as member of his Presidential Transition Team, advising the administration on policy and hiring at the Interior Department, which oversees Native American issues,” writes Richard Wolfe and Holly Baily in Newsweek. “That level of close access to Bush, DeLay and other GOP leaders has been cited by many of the Indian tribes who hired Abramoff with hopes of gaining greater influence with the administration and Congress on gaming issues.”
Yet public lobbying records filed by Abramoff’s firm show the lobbyist made 195 lobbying contacts with the administration on issues for the Marianas islands alone during Bush’s first 10 months in office. Abramoff lobbied to preserve the American territorial islands -- notorious for their "Made in the USA" sweatshops -- as exempt from federal minimum wage standards.
Two key players on Abramoff's lobbying team wound up with Bush administration jobs: Patrick Pizzella, named an assistant secretary of labor by Bush; and David Safavian, chosen by Bush to oversee federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget.
In fact, Abramoff’s close ties with Bush go back to 1997 when the then Governor of Texas wrote a letter on the lobbyist’s behalf supporting his Marianas island client’s school choice proposal.