Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Paper: Texas Favored Firm Tied to Abramoff

There really isn't much to say about this story, but that it is not surprising. Yes, we are talking another exciting episode of The Jack Abramoff Show! The story is from Yahoo News:

AUSTIN, Texas - The state of Texas hired a firm with close ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff after rejecting competing bids that met more of its selection criteria and cost less, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

What the winning firm, Cassidy & Associates, had was access all the way to presidential aide Karl Rove, the Austin American-Statesman reported, citing memos and e-mails it obtained through a Texas open records request.

The firm was awarded a $15,000-a-month contract in 2004 to lobby Congress for the state.

"Cassidy is the best fit for Texas," David Pagan, associate director of the Office of State-Federal Relations, said in a May 25, 2004, e-mail to staff members. He wrote that the firm was the leader in Washington in acquiring federal funding.

Talk about a reference and qualifications--access to Karl Rove! I especially love Pagan's comments, saying that Cassidy was the best fit for Texas, when the only winning qualification that Cassidy had was these lobbying ties to Abramoff, and access to Karl Rove. Continuing with the ties between Cassidy and Abramoff:

Cassidy & Associates is under fire from Texas House Democrats because of the close ties between Cassidy senior vice president Todd Boulanger and Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud.

Seven Texas House Democrats sent a letter to Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, on Friday demanding that Cassidy's contract be canceled.

Perry's spokeswoman, Kathy Walt, said that although Cassidy was not initially the top scorer in the bidding process, it rose to the top after interviews with the state's selection committee and after its references were checked.

Cassidy was one of 17 firms that competed for the contract to represent the state.

An initial state assessment ranked Cassidy fourth, the newspaper said. Two of the firms ranked ahead of it would have charged Texas $300 to $833 less per month than Cassidy's initial offer of $15,833 a month.

Once the contract was signed, Cassidy's fee was down to $15,000, plus expenses.


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