A tangled web indeed:
Newly disclosed documents from an American territory in the Pacific show that the powerful Washington lobbyist at the center of federal corruption investigations here paid directly for travel to the islands by several members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, as well as two senior aides to Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, despite House rules that bar such payments. The lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, submitted bills to his law firm for more than $350,000 in expenses for several trips to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in 1996 and 1997 on behalf of the congressmen, as well as several others including Edwin Buckham, Mr. DeLay’s former chief of staff, and Tony Rudy, his former deputy chief of staff. In letters and e-mail messages to the Marianas, Mr. Abramoff acknowledged that he had paid for the trips and asked the island government, which had hired him to lobby against proposed labor measures that would have affected the islands, to send him checks. House travel rules bar lobbyists from paying for Congressional travel, even if the lobbyist is reimbursed by a group or government agency that is allowed to pay for travel. Mr. DeLay also visited the Marianas in late 1997 on a trip arranged by Mr. Abramoff. The documents, obtained by The New York Times under a Freedom of Information request, do not include information about how Mr. DeLay’s expenses were covered.