Aides Epidemic:

January 18, 2006

8 Congressional 'Revolvers' Aided Abramoff at Greenberg

As part of his recent plea bargain with federal prosecutors, crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff pled guilty to using two congressmen’s former aides (Tom DeLay aide Tony Rudy and Bob Ney aide Neil Volz) to corrupt public officials. During four go-go years at Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff worked with eight ex-congressional aides on 53 annual contracts worth $62.6 million, federal lobby disclosures reveal.

In fact, Abramoff lobbied on more contracts with a one-time aide to a Democratic senator than he did with either Tony Rudy or Neil Volz. Greenberg Traurig no longer employs any of the revolving-door lobbyists who worked with Abramoff.

Federal law requires lobbyists who previously held certain federal jobs to disclose their revolving-door status. From 2001 to 2004, Greenberg listed Abramoff as a lobbyist on 56 annual contracts for 25 different clients (Abramoff represented many clients for two or more years running). Abramoff was joined on all but three of these contracts by at least one Greenberg lobbyist who was listed as a former congressional aide.1

Stephanie Leger Short, an ex-legislative counsel to former Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) lobbied with Abramoff on 34 contracts—more than any of the other revolving-door lobbyists.

Tony Rudy came next, logging 26 tours of duty with Abramoff. In his plea deal, Abramoff alleges that he paid the wife of then-DeLay aide Rudy $50,000 to reward this aide for using DeLay’s office to kill bills opposed by Abramoff clients. After Greenberg, Rudy went to Alexander Strategy Group, a lobby firm founded by other DeLay aides. That firm just closed due to adverse publicity from the Abramoff scandal.

Abramoff's Revolving-Door Lobbyists at Greenberg Traurig
Revolving-Door Lobbyist
Old Boss
Old Job Yearly
Time Period
Steph. Leger Short Sen. John Breaux, D-LA
Leg. Counsel
34 '01-'04
Tony C. Rudy Rep. Tom DeLay, R-TX
Gen'l Counsel
26 '01-'03
Neil Volz Rep. Bob Ney, R-OH
Chief of Staff
25 '02-'04
Edward P. Ayoob Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV
Leg. Counsel
23 '02-'04
Duane R. Gibson Rep. Don Young, R-AL
Sr. Counsel
20 '02-'04
Gary M. Shiffman Rep. Connie Mack, R-FL
For. Policy Adv
8 '01-'02
Brian Drapeaux Sen. Tom Daschle, D-SD
Leg. Assistant
3 '01-'02
James F. Hirni Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-AR
Leg. Director
2 '03-'04


Neil Volz, who lobbied on 25 Abramoff contracts, is an ex-aide to Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who himself is a person of interest in the Abramoff probe. Abramoff’s plea alleges that soon after Greenberg hired Volz away from Rep. Ney, Volz contacted his old boss to help a client land a lucrative federal communications contract. This appears to have violated a revolving-door law that bars certain federal officials from lobbying their old offices for one year. After Greenberg, Volz lobbied for Indianapolis-based Barnes & Thornburg.

Edward Ayoob, an ex-legislative counsel to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) worked on 23 contracts with Abramoff. Ayoob also joined Barnes & Thornburg after the Abramoff scandal broke. Unlike Volz, Ayoob still works at this firm.

Robert Grand, Barnes & Thornburg’s managing partner, raised at least $100,000 for Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000 and at least $200,000 more for the reelection campaign. Grand first registered as a federal lobbyist in 1999—the year he joined Bush’s “Pioneer” fundraisers. President-Elect Bush then appointed Grand to his Justice Department transition team in 2000. After Bush’s 2000 election Barnes & Thornburg formally opened a Washington office.

Duane Gibson, who was a senior counsel on Rep. Don Young’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, lobbied on 20 contracts with Abramoff. Gibson gained notoriety during the 2000 presidential recount fight, when he was one of the GOP operatives whom the media portrayed as “an angry mob” of Floridians demanding a halt to Miami’s recount. After Greenberg, Gibson set up GovBiz Advantage, a firm catering to extractive industries operating in Rep. Young’s Alaska. Gibson does considerable subcontracting for the Livingston Group of former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA).

Three other revolving-door lobbyists worked on fewer than 10 Abramoff contracts apiece. Gary Shiffman, a former foreign policy advisor to Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) worked on eight Abramoff contracts. Brian Drapeaux, an ex-legislative assistant to former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SC) worked on three of these contracts. While James Hirni, an ex-legislative director to former Sen. Tim Huchinson (R-AR), worked on just two Abramoff contracts before following Abramoff to Cassidy & Associates in 2004. Texas Governor Rick Perry has awarded a $330,000 contract to Cassidy & Associates to lobby for the state in Washington. Abramoff has since left Cassidy, where Hirni lobbies on.

These eight revolving-door lobbyists worked with Abramoff on 53 annual contracts benefiting 22 clients who paid Greenberg a total of $62.6 million. Abramoff’s top five clients all were gambling interests; a total of eight gambling clients dominated by Indian tribes accounted for 70 percent ($45.3 million) of the Greenberg retainers listed below.

The firm raked in another $5.3 million from four clients that had a reported interest in U.S. territorial issues, notably weakening labor laws in the Northern Mariana Islands. This archipelago was a junket destination for Abramoff, DeLay and then-Rep. Young aide Duane Gibson.2

Clients Represented By Abramoff's Revolvers

Total Value of
Revolver Contracts
Time Period
Coushatta Tribe LA $14,380,000
Indian gaming
Agua Caliente Band CA $9,800,000
Indian gaming
Saginaw Chippewa MI $6,700,000
Indian gaming
Mississippi Band of Choctaw MS $6,120,000
Indian gaming
International Interactive Alliance Gibraltar $5,200,000
Internet gaming
Tyco International Bermuda/NJ $4,500,000
Tax dodging
Primedia NY $3,200,000
TV advertising
Voor Huisen Project Management Netherlands $2,740,000
Soviet housing
Commonwealth of N. Mariana Isles Saipan $2,400,000
Labor laws
Sandia Pueblo NM $2,280,000
Indian gaming
American International Center DE $1,800,000
Abramoff shell
Chitimacha Tribe LA $820,000
Indian gaming
Saipan Garment Mfgs Assn Saipan $640,000
Labor laws
Unisys PA $560,000
Info technology
Gen'l Council for Islamic Banks Bahrain $540,000
Islamic banks
Howard Hills, Esq. CA $420,000
U.S. territories
DH2 IL $220,000
Atofina France $120,000
HCFC regs
Flight International VA $100,000
Military air safety
Westerman Shapiro Draghi & Miller NY $30,000
Suncruz Casino FL $20,000
Guam Int'l Airport Authority Guam $10,000
  TOTAL: $62,600,000



1 The three contracts that Abramoff worked without the aid of one of these revolving-door lobbyists were a 2003 Cherokee Nation contract and contracts with the Estate of Kurt Nottenbohm in both 2001 and 2002.
2 Abramoff, Rudy and Leger Short registered to lobby on “U.S. territorial sovereignties” for Delaware-based American International Center. This has been identified as a shell created by Abramoff and ex-DeLay aide Michael Scanlon.