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Next up: Ed Buckham

Word is that Tony Rudy’s plea agreement will implicate former DeLay Chief of Staff Ed Buckham, of US Family Network fame (see here, here, and here for more). From Bloomberg:

Supporting documents released with the plea agreement put a third former DeLay aide under scrutiny. While still working for DeLay, the documents said, Rudy received payments to a consulting firm he owned from Abramoff and “Lobbyist B,'” described in the documents as a former DeLay aide who founded his own lobby firm, which Rudy subsequently joined.

That fits the description of former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham, founder of the now-defunct Alexander Strategy Group, which employed Rudy until earlier this year.

There’s more on Rudy’s plea agreement in that story, or you can read the TPMMuckraker summary. Buckham wasn’t explicitly named, but as the Bloomberg story and Roll Call point out, the inference of his presence is pretty strong.

In his plea deal, which was publicly released after Rudy’s formal guilty plea this morning, Rudy officially accuses Buckham – who is identified as “Lobbyist B” in the filings-— of helping set up $50,000 in payments to Rudy’s wife’s consulting firm in order to win Rudy’s help in killing a bill that would have outlawed Internet gaming. Abramoff at the time was representing Internet gambling clients who wanted to keep the practice legal.

While Buckham is not identified in the documents, they leave no doubt that his firm, Alexander Strategy Group, is “Firm 3.”

In addition, the plea agreement says that Rudy, while working as deputy chief of staff for DeLay in 2000, arranged for other House staffers to travel to the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and also secured appropriations money for the CNMI. The Marianas were a long-standing client of Abramoff’s, but the court filings say that Rudy did this work “in part to assist Abramoff, his firm and Lobbyist B with their lobbying businesses.”

Buckham and Abramoff were very close over the years – Abramoff steered donations from his clients into the coffers of nonprofits run by Buckham, such as the U.S. Family Network – and they did work together for some clients.

Buckham is considered the single closest adviser to DeLay, even having served as the lawmaker’s minister.

After leaving DeLay’s office, in addition to running the lobbying firm, Buckham maintained control of DeLay’s political operations by effectively running his political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority PAC, out of his lobbying firm.

TPMMuckraker discusses what a Buckham guilty plea might mean. Keep those seatbelts fastened.

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