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Group files Justice Department complaint against Texas congressman

RAW STORY
Published: Wednesday April 19, 2006

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A Washington watchdog called on the Justice Department today to begin an official investigation into whether Texas Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) received bribes from a San Fransisco defense firm in exchange for supporting earmarks that benefited the company, RAW STORY has learned.

A call and email placed for comment were not immediately returned.

Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington filed the complaint Wednesday. The group has "filed" repeated ethics complaints before -- but the complaint against sessions was filed with the Justice Department, instead of simply being announced publicly. Ethics complaints must be filed by a member of Congress; Justice Department complaints can be made by anyone.

The group's complaint also alleges that Rep. Sessions had substantive ties with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Their release follows, along with the complaint.

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Abramoff Ties

CREW’s complaint alleges that Rep. Sessions co-signed two letters, one to former Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2001 and another to former Interior Secretary Gale Norton in 2002, which benefitted Mr. Abramoff’s client, the Louisiana Coushatta. One month after his 2002 letter was sent, Rep. Sessions’ political action committee, PETE PAC, received $3,500 from the Louisiana Coushatta and another $3,500 from other tribes with casinos. Within 18 months, PETE PAC received $20,500 from tribes associated with Abramoff.

Rep. Sessions also traveled to Malaysia on an Abramoff-arranged trip with indicted public relations executive Michael Scanlon, two lobbyists from Abramoff’s firm Greenberg Traurig, one of which, Tony Rudy has been indicted, and two other Members of Congress, Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY). Prior to the trip, Rep. Sessions had shown no public interest in Malaysia, but four months after the trip, Rep. Sessions became an advocate for Malaysia by forming the Malaysia Trade, Security and Economic Cooperation in the House with trip-mate Rep. Meeks.

Promia Ties

Additionally, Rep. Sessions promoted the interests of Promia, a firm based in San Francisco that hired Session’s former communications director, Adrian Plesha, as vice president and director of its Washington office. Mr. Plesha pleaded guilty to felony charges related to FEC offences shortly after he began working for Promia.

Promia was able to garner a nearly $800,000 Navy research and development contract in May, 2000 and Rep. Sessions, along with Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), publicly worked to get an additional $8 million to Promia through a Department of Defense grant.

In October 2000, the same month that Promia received $2 million from Trautman Wasserman & Co., a New York venture capital firm, Rep. Sessions received the maximum allowed — $2,000 each, from eight Promia executives for his re-election campaign. In 2002, Promia gave $30,000 to PETE PAC. In total Promia and its executives have contributed nearly $55,000 to Rep. Sessions since 2000 – by far the largest contribution Promia has made to any Member of Congress.

“Why would Rep. Sessions, who represents a northern Texas district, work so hard for and receive so much cash from a San Francisco firm?” Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW asked today. “The Department of Justice should open a criminal investigation to determine whether the campaign contributions Rep. Sessions received from Abramoff, the tribes and from Promia executives were a quid pro quo for official actions.”

READ THE FORMAL COMPLAINT HERE

VIEW THE GROUP'S JUSTICE DEPT. 'EXHIBITS' HERE