Tuesday, July 05, 2005

How Did Duke Miss Out on This?

Tom Delay's favorite lobbyist, Jack Abramoff apparently was very generous to Republican legislators at his posh DC restaurant, Signatures. The New York Times reveals that:

Over a 17-month period in 2002 and 2003, the restaurant gave away about $180,000 in food and drink, with Mr. Abramoff's tab roughly $65,000 for himself and his guests, the records say.

Signatures sounds like a pretty tough place to get into unless you happened to be someone like Representative Delay or Southern California's own Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA 46th), who claims a friendship exemption for all the free meals provided him by Mr. Abramoff.

The Times article paints the portrait of an exclusive restaurant catering to the Republican "power lunch" crowd and their lobbyist cronies.

The lobbyist Jack Abramoff mixed business with business at Signatures, the upscale restaurant he opened here three years ago. Playing host at his private corner spot, Table 40, he courted Republican lawmakers and talked strategy with subordinates while eating rolls of sushi and firing commands to the staff on his BlackBerry.

Signatures appeared to satisfy several ambitions for Mr. Abramoff, who is at the center of two widening fraud investigations. By most accounts, he reveled in the role of celebrity restaurant owner. His expense account restaurant, which offered a $74 steak and a $140 tasting menu, packed in Capitol Hill staffers and prominent politicians...

…The walls were lined with signed historic documents - hence the restaurant's name - including a copy of former President Richard Nixon's pardon that later sold for almost $5,000.

The tables were set with Christofle flatware, custom Villeroy & Boch chargers, even special lint-free napkins. Guests could rent a wine locker to store their favorite vintages and buy cigars from the in-house humidor. The restaurant had a van for a while to chauffeur guests…

…Signatures, which advertised that it provided "Liberal portions in a conservative setting," became a favorite among Republicans. Dozens of lawmakers took advantage of its location to hold fund-raisers, parties and meetings...

I ask again, how did Duke miss out on this free lunch?