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Abramoff Scandal
Staffer for Sen. Burns went to work for Abramoff


A former staffer for Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Montana) went to work for disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and may have swayed his ex-boss on issues affecting Abramoff clients.

Shawn Vasell, pictured at right, worked for Burns as his staff director for Montana. He joined Greenberg Traurig in 2001, where he represented tribes and the Northern Marianas Islands, a U.S. territory.

In 2001, Burns voted against a bill that the Northern Marianas opposed. The vote came a day after he received a $5,000 donation from a business owner on the islands, The Missoulian reported. Prior to receiving the donation, Burns didn't oppose the bill, the paper aid.

�Burns actually voted for the bill before he voted against it,� Matt McKenna, a spokesman for the Montana Democratic Party, told the paper. �The only thing that happened in between is he got paid.�

In 2003, Burns helped the wealthy Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan obtain a $3 million school grant meant for poorer tribes. Vasell was representing the tribe and his other clients included the Cherokee Nation Enterprises, the business arm of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts [Senate Records] .

Vasell no longer works for Greenberg Traurig. He appeared at a June 22, 2005, Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing but refused to testify, citing his constitutional rights.

Get the Story:
Burns did about-face after cash from lobbyist (The Missoulian 12/4)

Relevant Links:
Sen. Conard Burns - http://burns.senate.gov
Montana Democratic Party - http://www.montanademocrats.org

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