Istook's former chief of staff pleads guilty 

Former Oklahoma Congressman Ernest Istook's chief of staff has pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with a bribery scandal involving disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

John Albaugh, who worked for Istook from 1993 to 2006, pleaded guilty as part of an agreement with the department's continuing lobbying scandal investigation.

For his crimes, Albaugh faces up to five years in prison, $250,000 in fines and supervised release following completion of his sentence, according to a statement from the department.

According to the Justice Department, Albaugh "corruptly accepted a stream of things of value from one of Abramoff's colleagues, his lobbying firm and their clients, in exchange for agreeing to take and taking official action on their behalf."

The charges against Albaugh state that while working for Istook, Albaugh would regularly meet and communicate with an unnamed lobbyist working for Abramoff, accepting gifts in excess of the amounts allowed by federal law and enact legislation on the behalf of clients represented by Abramoff's firm.

In one exchange, Albaugh wrote e-mails detailing how much he was able to garner for Abramoff's clients, the charges state. The client had work involving a transportation bill Istook was shepherding through Congress.

"On or about November 12, 2003, in response to an e-mail from Lobbyist C asking whether he is 'still conferencing' on the transportation appropriations bill, defendant ALBAUGH then responded, '[y]es, it is helping your projects out,'" the charges state. "Lobbyist C responded, 'WOOHOO. Tell me when you can. . . thanks.'"

The charges show Albaugh answered with a detailed accounting of the millions for Abramoff's clients:

"[Client A] is now at $1.25 m," the charges show. "[Client B] $1 m"¦[Client C] $1.2 m"¦[ClientD] $1.4m"¦" Albaugh wrote, saying, "'Whos [sic] the man!" "Ben Fenwick


Oklahoma Gazette's June 11 print edition will feature more on the case.

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