A couple weeks ago, the Bush administration unilaterally opened up an area of prime wildlife habitat in northern Alaska, Lake Teshekpuk, for oil leasingan area that had previously been protected even while the vast majority of surrounding lands had been opened.
Little did I know when I first wrote about this, but this event serves as yet another illustration of how the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his friends and associates are such an integral part of the GOP power structure that runs the federal government these days.
The beaurocrat who gave the final sign off on the giveaway of Lake Teshekpuk to the oil industry? Deputy Assistant Interior Secretary Chad Calvert. His wife? Jennifer Calvert, co-founder of the lobbying firm Washington Strategies. Their former boss? Jack Abramoff. Her partner at Washington Strategies? William P. Jarrell, former top staffer for none other than Tom DeLay.
Jennifer Calvert has achieved some recent notoriety via Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo. Seems that back in the year 2000, while working for Abramoff's lobbying firm, her job included acting as a liason between politicians and aides looking for special event tickets and Abramoff, who was handing them out like candy.
Just a few days ago, she felt compelled to issue this statement:
I certainly do not have any involvement with the illegal acts of Jack Abramoff, and have not been questioned in the wrongdoing surrounding him or his associates. In fact, from what I’ve read, the offenses at the heart of the Abramoff investigation occurred when he was at the Greenberg Traurig firm – well after I ever worked with him at Preston Gates.
About Chad Calvert, the Village Voice published an article nearly two years ago that includes a brief passage suggesting that he used his position at the Interior Department to gain access for his wife, and her new lobbying firm, to Wayne Smith, then the assistant deputy secretary in charge of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
... Bill Jarrell and Jennifer Calvert, two lobbyists who'd worked with Abramoff prior to 2001, left him within days of the  election to form their own company, Washington Strategies, immediately attracting tribal clients. Jarrell, like Scanlon, was once a top DeLay staffer. Smith says Jennifer's husband, Chad Calvert, while he was Interior's deputy director of legislative affairs, introduced her to him, left documents from her in his office, and joined the two of them at lobbying lunches—recollections the Calverts only partially deny.The GOP congressional leadership, Abramoff-connected lobbyists, and flunkies in the Bush administration are all one big happy, ethically challenged, family.