On May 9, 2001, five of lobbyist Jack Abramoff's clients met with the President at the White House. Grover Norquist, the President of Americans for Tax Reform, had invited them to a White House reception on behalf his organization.
Telling his clients they had to be event "sponsors" to attend, Mr. Abramoff convinced at least two clients to write $25,000 checks to Americans For Tax Reform (ATR). Four other of Abramoff's tribal clients also attended.
Though they did not attend the event, the Choctaw Indians donated $25,000 to be a "sponsor" of the meeting, according to a June 8, 2005 Associated Press report. The same article reports another Abramoff client, the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, also attended.
Ben Fitial, then-Speaker of the House for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) showed up, too. A brochure later distributed by the Americans For Tax Reform features a picture of him shaking hands at the meeting with President Bush. Recently, Abramoff's ties to the Northern Mariana Islands have come under scrutiny: Several Congressmen have called for an investigation into whether he inappropriately influenced then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to get the US Attorney for the islands fired.
Yet another Abramoff client, Raul Garza of the Kickapoo tribe, also attended. Last week, Time Magazine reported the existence of a photograph of Abramoff, Garza and the President from the ATR event. The White House has denied that Abramoff attended the event at all.
Finally, accounts suggest that a final Abramoff client, the Saginaw Tribe of Michigan might have been there. A May 2005 Newsweek article reported that Abramoff arranged for the tribe to meet with Bush and Rove after a $25,000 donation to ATR.
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