A federal judge today refused to dismiss the government’s case against former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring.
In a 41-page opinion, Judge Ellen Huvelle of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld all ten of the counts facing the ex-lobbyist, who is accused of helping Abramoff pull off his plot to bribe lawmakers and their aides by lavishing them with free gifts, trips and meals.
“The government does not seek to criminalize 'traditional' lobbying activities such as constitutionally protected petitioning or even the provision of meals and drinks in order to cultivate goodwill,” Huvelle wrote in response to criticisms by Ring’s lawyers. “Nor does the government seek to criminalize Ring’s supposed failure to prevent public officials from violating ethics rules by accepting his gifts. What the indictment does charge is that Ring devised and assisted as scheme … to deprive the public of the honest services of certain identified public officials.”
The judge’s ruling is a much-needed piece of good news for the prosecution. Last week, Justice Department lawyers disclosed that Public Integrity chief William Welch II had recused himself as supervisor of the case. Ring’s lawyers — Miller & Chevalier partners Richard Hibey, Andrew Wise and Timothy O’Toole — accused Welch of redacting important information from documents he had turned over to them. They also argued that his involvement in the Ted Stevens case posed a conflict of interest, because one of the witnesses set to testify against Ring, Henry Schuelke III of Janis, Schuelke & Wechsler, has been appointed investigate possible prosecutorial misconduct during the former senator's trial.