Justice Department Ends Probe of Burns

Posted January 3, 2008 at 11:32am

The Justice Department has ended its investigation into ties between jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), ending a multiyear inquiry that focused on allegations that Burns had done favors for the disgraced lobbyist on a variety of legislative issues.

Burns said Wednesday that his attorney had been told by Justice that the former Senator was no longer under investigation, and The Associated Press reported that a Justice spokesman confirmed the Burns element of the Abramoff probe was over.

In a statement released Wednesday, Burns said he was happy to put the issue behind him. “I am proud of my 18 years of service in the United States Senate and considered [it] a high honor to represent the folks in Montana. Now I move on to other interests,” he said.

The investigation also focused on former Burns aides Will Brooke and Leo Giacometto. Abramoff told investigators that Brooke and other aides to Burns used his restaurant, Signatures, as a “cafeteria” in return for helping clients of Abramoff.

Although Burns has consistently denied any involvement in the Abramoff affair, the allegations along with a series of scandals involving the lawmaker’s pet projects played a key role in his electoral defeat to Sen. Jon Tester (D) in 2006.

Brooke apparently remains under investigation by federal authorities for his ties to Abramoff.

— John Stanton