"Dedicated to exposing the lies and impeachable offenses of George W. Bush"

Official Warned Abramoff, Filing Alleges
Yahoo News/AP
By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer
January 29, 2006

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration's former chief procurement official tipped off lobbyist Jack Abramoff that the government was about to suspend the federal contracts of an Abramoff client, newly filed court papers say.

David Safavian provided "sensitive and confidential information" about four subsidiaries of Tyco International to Abramoff regarding internal deliberations at the General Services Administration, say the court papers filed Friday in a criminal case against Safavian.

Abramoff has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud in a burgeoning bribery probe centered on Capitol Hill but also involving the Interior Department.

The White House is refusing to release photographs of President Bush and Abramoff or to reveal what contact Abramoff had with White House aides.

Acting on the information that Abramoff provided the company in November 2003, Tyco lawyer Timothy Flanigan, a former assistant attorney general in the Bush administration, contacted the general counsel to the GSA and asked for an opportunity to address the suspension.

The company revealed Flanigan's role in a statement.

In October, Flanigan withdrew his nomination to be Bush's deputy attorney general. His confirmation was delayed due to questions about his dealings with Abramoff when Abramoff was a Tyco lobbyist.

The government had planned to suspend Tyco because of alleged criminal conduct by former Tyco executives.

After advising Abramoff about the internal deliberations at GSA, Safavian suggested to Abramoff what arguments Tyco should make when it appealed the suspension decision, the court papers in Safavian's federal court case say.

Once tipped off by Abramoff, Tyco hired an outside law firm and successfully petitioned the government to lift the suspension and allow Tyco to continue to perform on government contracts.

The law firm outlined "the many steps that Tyco had taken, including to bring on a new board of directors, a new CEO and new corporate senior management," Tyco said in its statement.

Safavian faces trial on charges that he lied and obstructed investigations into whether he aided Abramoff in efforts to acquire GSA-controlled property around the nation's capital.

The government said in its court filing Friday that it intends to present the information regarding Tyco at Safavian's upcoming trial. Safavian has pleaded innocent and his lawyers have moved for dismissal of all charges.

Safavian is accused of concealing from federal investigators that Abramoff was seeking to do business with the GSA when Safavian joined the lobbyist on a golf trip to Scotland in 2002. At the time, Safavian was GSA's chief of staff. He became the Bush administration's chief procurement official in November 2004.

In its statement, Tyco said that the information from Abramoff had come in unsolicited, that the corporation did not use Abramoff's services to respond to GSA, and that the company did not contact Safavian directly.

The company said its outside counsel, George Terwilliger, was assured by Justice Department prosecutors that neither the company nor anyone at the company, including Flanigan, is accused, is suspected or is being investigated for any wrongdoing.

In May 2003, Abramoff, then employed by the Washington firm Greenberg Traurig, solicited Tyco for lobbying on a tax issue.

Prosecutors say Abramoff recommended that Tyco hire both him and a public relations and campaign consulting firm called GrassRoots Interactive, but hid from Tyco that GrassRoots Interactive was his business.

In May and June 2003, Tyco paid GrassRoots Interactive, directly and through Greenberg Traurig's bank account, about $1.8 million, of which about $1.6 million went to Abramoff and entities he controlled, prosecutors say.

The WH says they didn't know Abramoff, but they knew him well enough to warn him about a pending contract. When this WH speaks, we know it's a lie.