Washington in brief

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Abramoff affiliate Kevin Ring is indicted

A federal grand jury has indicted lobbyist Kevin Ring Jr. for conspiring with Jack Abramoff and others to corrupt public officials (including congressional members), commit wire fraud and obstruct justice.

The Department of Justice contends that Ring and his co-conspirators provided domestic and international travel, fundraising assistance, drinks and event tickets, and employment to public officials, their relatives and spouses in return for official acts on behalf of their clients.

They also concealed, from the client Sandia Pueblo in New Mexico, kickback payments to Ring and Abramoff by communications operative Michael Scanlon, whom they had persuaded Sandia to hire for lobbying purposes, the DoJ alleges. In a pattern that has become familiar over the course of numerous prosecutions involving ex-lobbyist Abramoff and his associates, the indictment alleges that Abramoff and Ring used the Sandia payments, routed to them by Scanlon, to buy influence on Capitol Hill.

Ring, former Republican staff on Capitol Hill, reported to Abramoff at the lobbying firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP. Ring pleaded guilty.

Cobell will go forward with appeal

Lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell has announced an appeal of U.S. District Judge James Robertson’s award in the long-running lawsuit over the Individual Indian Money trust.

In awarding the plaintiff class of IIM accountholders $455 million, about one-tenth of what they had asked in retribution for federal mismanagement of the accounts, Robertson reasoned that he could not hold a galaxy of civil servants, managing a proliferation of accounts over the course of generations, to the same standards a single fiduciary, managing a single trust, would have to meet. He did not address the lack of any choice Indians had in assigning management of the accounts.
On appeal, Cobell hopes to win interest on the $455 million and a stricter standard for managing the trust.