Emails center-stage in Ring trial

The prosecution of Kevin Ring, the former lobbyist and Jack Abramoff associate, has called into question privacy matters in ethics investigations. Relying heavily on evidence of “behind-the-scenes dealmaking” outlined in personal emails, prosecutors are seeking to convict Ring of bribery.

According to a Washington Post report, Ring sent e-mails discussing his preference for working with “amoral pond scum,” because “the ethics thing is a real turn off.” Defense attorney Andrew Wise suggested that the words were being taken out of a context that was more “bravado” and “bragging” than admission of ethics breach; Wise said the words were “obvious jokes.”

Ring maintains that his actions were in accordance with legal lobbying provisions, and that the sporting event tickets he provided to Congressional staffers between 2003 and 2004 did not violate the lobbying laws in place at that time.

In a Roll Call article, Prosecutor Nathaniel Edmonds disagrees, insisting Ring and Abramoff intentionally set out to “corrupt the political system,” adding, “The defendant’s actions were not just lobbying, they were corruption… They were crimes.”

This is Ring’s second trial – his first, in October 2009, ended in a hung jury. Ring is the only one of Abramoff’s associates to go to trial instead of pleading guilty.

In other Abramoff-related news, a federal appellate court is grappling with whether or not David Safavian, former top Bush Administration procurement official, received a fair trial in the second hearing related to the Abramoff lobbying scandal, according to the Associated Press.

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