GrassRoots Interactive

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GrassRoots Interactive (GRI), now defunct, is the small Silver Springs, Maryland, lobbying firm founded "with a $10,000 investment" by the company's sole owner, Republican lawyer Edward B. Miller, in May 2003, "a month after he began work as a senior official in the state Department of Business and Economic Development." Miller, then a lawyer at DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, is a former aide to Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. and "was promoted to deputy chief of staff in the governor's office" in early 2004. [1][2][3][4]

"In September 2003, according to state documents, Miller sold Grassroots for $10,000" to Samuel Hook, an associate with indicted lobbyist and Republican fund-raiser Jack Abramoff at the law firm Greenberg Traurig. [5]

Tyco

GrassRoots Interactive "came under scrutiny on Capitol Hill in recent months when the Senate Judiciary Committee considered" President George W. Bush's nomination of Timothy E. Flanigan, a senior lawyer at Tyco International Ltd., a "former lobbying client of Mr. Abramoff, as the No. 2 official at the Justice Department." [6]

Around the same time in May 2003, when Miller founded GRI, according to Flanigan's testimony, Miller was introduced to Abramoff and retained him as a lobbyist. [7]

Abramoff and his firm "persuaded" Tyco "to hire Grassroots for a lobbying effort to protect tax breaks the company received as an offshore corporation based in Bermuda. ... Tyco paid Grassroots to promote its position that not all offshore companies were seeking to avoid U.S. taxes, Flanigan said. Grassroots was also supposed to coordinate efforts with advocacy groups who shared Tyco's views and to arrange for radio ads supportive of the company's position." [8]

GRI "collected hefty fees" from Tyco, "money that was allegedly diverted to other entities controlled by Abramoff and misspent." [9]

Flanigan, "told the committee that at Mr. Abramoff's suggestion he had directed $2 million to GrassRoots from Tyco for lobbying on the company's behalf." [10]

Around April 2004, "Greenberg Traurig officials contacted Flanigan to inform him that the firm had conducted an internal investigation and found that Abramoff had used Grassroots to launder about $1.5 million in Tyco money, which he diverted to accounts he controlled ... Greenberg Traurig agreed to repay Tyco that sum after learning they 'were apparently deceived' by Abramoff, Flanigan said." [11]

Miller & Tesler

On July 11, 2005, Hook and his wife, Shana Tesler, who had "reportedly been subpoenaed by the Justice Department taskforce," left the country "en route to a new life in Israel." [12]

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