A top aide to Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury that is probing the business dealings of former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Edward Miller, Ehrlich’s deputy chief of staff, received a subpoena recently and is cooperating with that request, said his attorney, Aron Raskas of the Baltimore firm Kramon & Graham.
The subpoena is part of a widening investigation of Abramoff, a one-time top Republican lobbyist whose work on behalf of several American Indian tribes with casino operations has come under scrutiny by a Senate committee as well as by the federal grand jury.
The subpoena that covers Miller, the Ehrlich aide, was actually issued to Grassroots Interactive, a company that Miller set up in May 2003 with Samuel Hook, a resident of Silver Spring, Md. Hook has ties to two companies caught up in the Abramoff investigation, and he and his wife have each been subpoenaed personally in the case.
Raskas, Miller’s attorney, said his client had provided information to federal authorities, but would not disclose any specifics about Miller’s interactions with Abramoff or about what type of work Grassroots Interactive engaged in. Raskas also would not say when Miller received the subpoena, but sources suggest that it was issued during the past two months.
“Mr. Miller was asked by the investigators to provide information” to the grand jury, said Raskas, a criminal-defense attorney in Baltimore.
Raskas emphasized that his client had done nothing improper or unethical. Miller reportedly gave up his stake in Grassroots Interactive when he went to work for the Maryland government in 2003.
Ehrlich’s office declined comment on the subpoena issued to Miller. Ehrlich served in the House for eight years before successfully running for governor.
Miller, 32, worked on Ehrlich’s gubernatorial campaign in 2002 and was named deputy chief of staff to the governor in January 2004. Prior to that, Miller served as deputy secretary for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development for several months.
Before joining the Ehrlich administration, Miller worked for the Baltimore office of Piper Rudnick, one of Maryland’s largest law firms, according to a biography on the Maryland state government Web site. Miller specialized in mergers and acquisitions while at the firm, and was still working there when he helped found Grassroots Interactive.
Hook, for his part, had a role not just in Grassroots Interactive but also is a partner in Federal Program Services, a company incorporated in Silver Spring in January 2003, according to documents filed in Maryland. The federal grand jury investigating Abramoff issued a subpoena to Federal Program Services as part of an ongoing probe of the more than $30 million in fees paid by four American Indian tribes to Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, a former aide to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), according to the American Press, a newspaper in Lake Charles, La.
Hook and his wife, Shana Tesler, worked with Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig, and both left the firm when Abramoff was ousted from there this past spring. Tesler, who served in the Clinton White House and at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, followed Abramoff to Cassidy & Associates, and is still employed at that firm as a vice president despite the fact that Abramoff has cut his ties to the lobbying powerhouse.
Hook and Tesler have each been subpoenaed individually by the grand jury in connection with the Abramoff probe, according to the American Press. Neither Hook nor Tesler returned calls seeking comment.
The grand jury, which has issued several dozen subpoenas since it began looking into the Abramoff case, appears to be focusing on the complex web of interactions between Abramoff and a number of businesses and nonprofit organizations he was involved with.
Roll Call reported last week that Julie Doolittle, wife of Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), has received a subpoena from the grand jury, as has a company controlled by the husband of Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.). A task force of criminal investigators from the FBI, Justice Department, Internal Revenue Service, National Indian Gaming Commission and the Interior Department inspector general’s office has been set up as well.
Separately, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee has issued more than two dozen subpoenas during its own investigation of Abramoff and Scanlon, although the targets of those subpoenas have not been disclosed and no hearing has been scheduled as of yet.