Friday, May 26, 2006

Duncan denies link between school deal and Abramoff cash

"Duncan said there had 'absolutely not' been any relation between the lease of the school and campaign contributions," the Washington Post reports on May 26.

"I feel very strongly that closed, abandoned schools are bad for neighborhoods. I wanted to get the schools reused," Duncan says in defense of his actions.

Duncan overrode the objections of then-MCPS Superintendent Vance, and pushed the deal through to turn over the shuttered Belt High School in Wheaton to a religious school dominated by crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Duncan did the deal four weeks after Abramoff's sweatshop clients in Saipan funneled $20,000 into his political campaign.

Other Abramoff associates gave Duncan another $15,000 at about the same time, but they deny that the cash had anything to do with Abramoff's school, the Yeshiva of Greater Washington.