Man linked to Ehrlich aide dropped from nomination

Baltimore & Region


The White House announced yesterday that it has withdrawn its nomination of Timothy E. Flanigan for deputy attorney general amid questions over his connections to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a fraudulent 2003 business deal with a company then owned by a high-ranking official in Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s administration.

Flanigan faced tough questioning from Democratic senators over his views on the use of torture as an interrogation technique and a lobbying contract he gave to Grassroots Interactive.

Grassroots was founded and owned at the time by Edward B. Miller, who is now Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s deputy chief of staff.

Democrats crowed over the withdrawal yesterday, saying Flanigan's ties to Abramoff, now facing a federal fraud indictment, are emblematic of corruption in the Republican Party. According to his written testimony to the Senate, Flanigan, acting on Abramoff's recommendation, steered a $2 million lobbying contract to Grassroots in the spring of 2003 to help the company protect a tax exemption it enjoyed as an off-shore corporation.

Flanigan said he learned a year later that Grassroots had done little of the work outlined in the contract and, instead, $1.5 million had been diverted into other accounts Abramoff controlled.

During that time, according to state business and financial disclosure records, Miller was the sole owner of Grassroots. He sold the company in September 2003, recouping his $10,000 investment.

A spokesman for the state Department of Business and Economic Development said yesterday that the department had initially provided incorrect information about the date when Miller began work for the state. Last month, the department said Miller began work there on April 25, 2003, just weeks before he founded Grassroots.

Yesterday, the spokesman said Miller started work Aug. 25, 2003, a few weeks before he sold Grassroots.

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