Top Politico's Sudden Fall

Once named as one of the "50 Politicos to Watch," Republican lobbyist Todd Boulanger is now under the spotlight for a very different reason: he is expected to plead guilty to federal charges for influence-peddling as part of the wide-ranging investigation into the activities of the now-jailed Jack Abramoff, according to recently filed court documents.

The documents, filed in federal court in Washington, indicate that Boulanger, a former staffer for former Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), is expected to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy for honest services fraud for giving "a stream of things of value," that were intended "as a means of influencing, securing and rewarding official action."

His expected plea shows that even after the Republicans have fallen from power, the investigation into the party's abuses continues and is expected to lead to new criminal indictments in the coming months. It may also put pressure on another former Abramoff associate, Kevin Ring, who has been charged in a 10-count indictment for conspiring with Abramoff to influence public officials through gift giving and skirting disclosure requirements but maintains that he did nothing illegal.

It is unclear if Boulanger's plea would lead to trouble for other members of Congress, but he has been tied to fundraising for former Florida Republican Rep. Tom Feeney, who was defeated last year, and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS). A spokesperson for Cochran said he is not a target of an investigation. Feeney could not be reached for immediate comment.

Mark Flanagan, a lawyer for Boulanger, said in a statement that "Mr. Boulanger regrets this situation and is accepting responsibility for certain past conduct." He added, "Mr. Boulanger is cooperating with the Department of Justice in its investigation and looks forward to its complete and swift resolution."

Boulanger first began lobbying in 1999, joing Abramoff at the first of Preston Gates and following him to Greenberg Traurig until 2004, when the first public reports raised questions about Abramoff's lobbying operation. It was then that Boulanger moved to Cassidy & Associates, a Washington lobbyist powerhouse, where he managed to reestablish himself, boasting clients from Whirlpool Corp. to the Motion Picture Association of America.

Indeed, just this year The Politico listed him as one of the "players" to watch, noting, "From his successful weathering of the Jack Abramoff storm to his many cable TV appearances, Boulanger has proven his nattily attired, outside-the-box staying power."

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The scrutiny into Boulanger was first disclosed in court documents filed in November of as part of the plea agreement of Trevor Blackann, a former congressional staffer to Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) and Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Blackann pleaded guilty in November to making false statements on his 2003 tax return about $4,100 in gifts he received from lobbyists including Boulanger.

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