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You didn’t think the Abramoff scandal would end when Jack Abramoff went to jail in 2006, did you? No, the lobbying corruption case cast a long shadow over 2007, with a parade of key figures facing criminal charges in federal court. In March, J. Steven Griles, a former high-level official at the Department of the Interior, pleaded guilty to obstruction-of-justice charges in the Abramoff investigation. Others sentenced in 2007 in connection with the investigation included former Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio); David Safavian, a one-time official at the White House Office of Management and Budget; and former Ney aide Neil Volz. Griles later married another figure in the Abramoff probe, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, a former assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources, who resigned in January. In December, Griles’ former girlfriend, Italia Federici, the former head of a Republican environmental group who served as a go-between for Abramoff and Griles, got two months in a halfway house after cooperating with investigators � a sign that there may be still more figures implicated in the ongoing investigation into Abramoff’s activities. Both Congress and the White House have been touched by the scandal involving the former Greenberg Traurig lobbyist. Congress, after years of discussion and debate, passed lobbying reform legislation that banned lavish trips for lawmakers paid for by lobbyists, who, also, may no longer accompany legislators on junkets. The law levies civil and criminal penalties against those who violate it, though how it will be enforced is still unclear. And earlier this month, in a case filed by a citizen watchdog group, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that White House visitor logs are public records, defeating claims that the logs are exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests. The ruling � which the White House will likely appeal � came in a case involving visits to the White House by conservative Christian leaders. The same watchdog group has requested records of visits by Abramoff, meaning that this story could make our next year-end list, as well.
Carrie Levine can be contacted at [email protected].

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