Earlier today, the AP reported that Kevin Koonce, who worked as Commerce Secretary-nominee Judd Gregg’s legislative director from 2002-04, “has been caught up in a long-running investigation into a Capitol Hill lobbying scandal.” Koonce “was cited in a guilty plea last week by Todd Boulanger, a former deputy to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff,” as having taken gifts exceeding $10,000 in exchange for favors in spending legislation.
At the White press briefing today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded to the story about Koonce:
GIBBS: I don’t know about the vetting. I know that the Secretary-designate is not a target or a subject of any of the investigation about an employee that I think left his office in 2004 and I would direct you to them for additional statements. … This obviously is somebody who left his employment quite some time ago.
According to Boulanger’s plea documents, Koonce “tried to help insert spending measures and add other amendments to legislation for Boulanger’s clients.” At one point, Boulanger sent an e-mail to Abramoff saying that he was confident Koonce’s boss would help them out:
Later, Boulanger sent an e-mail to Abramoff expressing confidence that the senator for whom the staffer worked would give them a favor. “Easy money,” Boulanger wrote, adding that the aide “practically lives in our various suites. We are shady.”
As Raw Story notes, Gregg’s spokesman Joel Maiola said in 2006 that Gregg had “never had any contact” with Abramoff, despite his acceptance of donations from “two Indian tribes represented by Abramoff’s firm in 2002 and 2004.” Gregg reportedly donated the $12,000 to a New Hampshire-based charity.