Ninth Abramoff Conviction: House Staffer Mark Zachares
By Lee Russ
Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 07:41 AM
Add Congressional staffer Mark Zachares to the list of casualties of the Abramoff investigation.Zachares was scheduled to plead guilty yesterday to conspiracy involving all sorts of payoffs and benefits from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff in return for Zachares misusing his government positions.
Until some time in 2005, Zachares was on the staff of Alaska Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska). At one time Zachares served as Special Assistant Attorney General of the the Marianas Department of Labor and Immigration, in which capacity he told a documentary filmmaker investigating Saipan's use of virtual slave labor that:
The vast majority of the people that are coming here, paying $5,000 to come to work, as they sometimes claim, are in some ways willing victims. They are taking a gamble.
In 2001, Abramoff sought Ralph Reed's help in getting Zachares appointed to the now-infamous Interior Department, but failed.
Still, CNN's report indicates that:
From June 2002 through November 2004, Zachares worked for the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, providing Abramoff contact information for prospective businesses that would be affected by the creation of the Homeland Security Department, the court papers stated.
The two men worked out a "two-year plan" in which Abramoff would build a homeland security lobbying practice that Zachares ultimately would join.
CNN puts the tally of convictions in the Abramoff case now at five congressional staffers, two ex-officials of the Interior Department, White House staffer David Safavian, and Congressman Bob Ney.
Also, Republican congressman from Florida Tom Feeny has been asked by the FBI to supply information about his dealings with Abramoff.
Apparently unrelated to Abramoff, two other congressional Republicans, Rick Renzi of Arizona and John T. Doolittle of California, have recently given up certain committee seats.