July 1, 2000
Kevin Ring's defense team has argued that the government must prove that Mr. Ring entered into a corrupt agreement to exchange things of value (TOVs) for official acts. Without such an agreement, the defense says, the government cannot prove Mr. Ring had corrupt intent and he must be found not guilty.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle rejected Mr. Ring's argument. She said that a jury could "infer" a bribery-style quid pro quo agreement from the evidence.
Let's review some of the evidence on which such an inference could be drawn:
1. A March 14, 2002 email from Mr. Ring to John Albaugh, a staffer to Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.):
You're going to eat free off of our clients. Need to get us some abstinence money.1
2. A February 10, 2004 email from Mr. Ring to Laura Blackann, a staffer to Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.). Mrs. Blackann had been helping Mr. Ring with some tax legislation benefiting a Team Abramoff Client:
Mrs. Blackann: [J]ust earning my Sigs[*] Sushi ;)
Mr. Ring: Exactly. I will keep you occupied.
Mrs. Blackann: Keep it coming -- this is the fun stuff.
[*] This is an apparent reference to Signatures, the restaurant owned by Jack Abramoff.
3. A March 16, 2002 email from Mr. Ring to a fellow Team Abramoff lobbyist who had treated Justice Department official David Ayers to an NCAA basketball tournament game. Mr. Ring needed Mr. Ayers' assistance in securing funding for the full $16.3 million grant for the Choctaw jail:
Glad he got a chance to relax. Now he can pay us back.
One simple question, gentle readers: Do you infer than Mr. Ring intended to exchange things of value for official acts?
1 The above wording comes from the Kevin Ring indictment (paragraph 33). Another government filing (p. 2) offers this slightly different verbiage: “You are going to eat free off our clients. Now get us some abstinence money.”