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Santorum’s Staff Transfer

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.) is recalling one of his most trusted aides to his personal office as he prepares for a tough re-election battle next year. [IMGCAP(1)]

Robert Traynham is moving from his post as communications director/deputy staff director for the Conference to assume the same role in the Pennsylvanian’s personal office. Filling Traynham’s shoes at the conference is Randy Brandt, a former aide in the personal office.

Santorum’s decision to move Traynham is a sign the incumbent is concerned about his re-election contest against the presumptive Democratic nominee, state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. Casey is leading in the vast majority of public polls.

Traynham is a battle-tested campaign veteran, working as Santorum’s communications director in 2000 as well as for President Bush’s re-election last year. He has been with the Conference since 2001.

“It’s great to be back in the saddle again,” Traynham said. “Sen. Santorum is making a difference in the lives of millions of Pennsylvanians through his positive forward-thinking agenda, and I am honored that he asked me to come back to assist him communicating that message.”

Reed All About It. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee officially announced Monday that its next big hearing into the investigation of ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s dealings with tribal clients is set for June 22. Like the previous two high-profile hearings on the more than $82 million in lobbying and public relations fees that Abramoff and an associate collected, this one will be held in the spacious Hart 216 at 9:30 a.m.

The committee’s announcement, posted on its Web site, does not specify the precise agenda for the hearing, and aides to Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) did not elaborate.

But, as Roll Call reported April 21, GOP activist Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform has been subpoenaed by McCain’s committee for its records connected to Abramoff clients. Norquist is fighting the subpoena.

The hearing is also expected to shine a light on the dealings of GOP consultant Ralph Reed, who is now running for lieutenant governor in Georgia. From 2001 to 2003, Reed was paid roughly $4.2 million by Abramoff, who was then working for the firm Greenberg Traurig, and by PR firms run by Abramoff’s partner, Mike Scanlon.

Abramoff utilized Reed to mobilize Christians to oppose new gambling venues in Texas, Louisiana and Alabama. Reed has maintained that he never had any direct financial relationship with any casino operator.

Norquist has acknowledged that ATR acted as a conduit for hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw, a key Abramoff client with a big casino operation that opposed new competitors in neighboring states. ATR steered some of the money to Reed’s consulting firm.

— Mark Preston and Paul Kane

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