In an e-mail exchange, Istook, a Republican who represented the Oklahoma City area for 14 years in the U.S. House, declined to answer whether he had received a subpoena to testify before a grand jury — or whether he had testified before a grand jury.
He did say, again, that he had spoken to the FBI and that he was “shocked and surprised” about Albaugh, who worked for him nearly as long as Istook was in Congress. And he said he was “cooperating with them fully.”
Albaugh pleaded guilty Monday to a single conspiracy charge. He admitted that he helped get road project money for a lobbyist’s clients while the lobbyist was treating him to meals at fancy restaurants and to tickets to sporting events and concerts.
In the year that the acts took place, Albaugh was making nearly $145,000 a year.
According to the Justice Department information about the conspiracy, Albaugh took about $4,000 worth of meals and tickets. But not all of the tickets went to Albaugh alone. Istook benefited from the use of luxury suites at a downtown Washington arena — for an American idols concert — and at the Maryland stadium where the Washington Redskins play. The suites were used for campaign fundraisers for Istook.
The suites were controlled by former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is now serving time in prison for conspiracies in Florida and Washington DC. Istook’s campaign didn’t reimburse Abramoff’s company for the suites until the Abramoff scandal exploded in 2006.
Albaugh’s case is part of the public corruption probe that began with Abramoff and has now snared 13 lobbyists and former public officials.