It was a gray day for most of us, but imagine how dismal it must have seemed to Robert Coughlin II.
The former deputy chief of staff in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division was accused today of criminal conflict of interest for his alleged dealings with a member of Jack Abramoff’s lobbying team at Greenberg Traurig. The Associated Press has more here.
You probably remember Coughlin’s name from news reports last year. Or maybe you don’t it’s pretty hard to keep all the Abramoff-related cases straight, without benefit of an accordion file and some multi-colored tabs.
Anyway, investigators said at the time that they were interested in Coughlin’s relationship with lobbyist Kevin Ring from 2001 to 2003, when Coughlin was in the Justice Department's Office of Legislative Affairs. Coughlin resigned from the Criminal Division last April, citing personal reasons. Ring is still under investigation.
The criminal information (read: upcoming plea deal) filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleges that “Coughlin provided assistance to a lobbyist and the lobbyist’s law/lobbying firm on particular matters before DOJ while knowingly receiving a stream of things of value from the lobbyist and his firm because of such assistance, and while having discussions concerning prospective employment with the law/lobbying firm.”
While the court papers don't mention Ring's name, it was previously reported that Coughlin had approached him about getting a job at Greenberg Traurig, and that Ring comped Coughlin meals and tickets to events. Interestingly, Ring used to work for Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.). Doolittle, who is retiring from Congress at the end of this year, is also under investigation.
Coughlin's plea hearing is tomorrow.