WASHINGTON – A federal judge sentenced a former Bush administration official to 18 months in prison in the Jack Abramoff lobbying case Friday – after delivering a 30-minute eulogy for good government in Washington.
“There was a time when people came to Washington because they thought government could be helpful to people,” said U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman. “People came to Washington asking not what government could do for them and their friends but what they could do for the public.”
David Safavian, the former chief of staff for the General Services Administration, was sentenced on obstruction and concealment charges for lying to investigators about his relationship with Abramoff.
Safavian wept in court as he asked for leniency, but Friedman said the ex-bureaucrat had become part of Washington’s culture of corruption, where congressmen listen to campaign donors and lobbyists while farming out to staff members the job of writing laws.
Abramoff, the once-powerful lobbyist, shook Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House when he pleaded guilty to corruption in January and began cooperating with an FBI investigation.
The case snared its first congressman this month when Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty to taking expensive gifts and trips from Abramoff in return for official favors.
Safavian, who also worked in the White House budget office, gave Abramoff details about GSA projects and offered advice on dealing with the agency.