Another federal official has been charged with a Lobbygate crime, the roots of which reach back to the days when superlobbist Jack Abramoff worked for Seattle's Preston Gates Ellis law and lobbying firm. Interior Department employee Roger G. Stillwell is now charged with making a false filing, a misdemeanor, denying he took gifts from Abramoff, reports the Washington Post.
Stillwell and Abramoff first hooked up when Stillwell's communications firm did work for the Northern Marianas, a U.S. protectorate. Abramoff, on behalf of his Seattle lobbying firm, was then arranging junkets to Saipan and the islands for Rep. Tom Delay, R-Texas, and dozens of other legislators in the late 1990s. The officials, including Republican members of Congress, were being wined and dined and urged to go easy on the island nation's dehumanizing sweatshop industry, which they did. That quid-pro-quo-ing is one of the centerpieces of the Justice Department task force investigation.
Stillwell's stumble into the Lobbygate net brings to more than a dozen, and counting, the number of lobbyist and officials who are charged, pleaded guilty or, like Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, are odds-on favorites to be indicted in the scandal. If you're keeping count locally, three ex-Preston Gates lobbyists—Abramoff, Mike Scanlon, and ex-Bush aide David Safavian—have either been convicted or pleaded guilty.