Said one White House adviser, who would speak to ABC News only on condition of anonymity, "Susan Ralston is a great example of why it's so hard to find good people to serve in government anymore. It's hard to imagine anyone who was more committed to simply doing a good job and doing it well."
Ralston, the adviser said, "could have left government years ago for money in the private sector, but chose to stay on as a good servant of democracy. But, like the ultimate good soldier, she made the right decision and fell on her sword rather than become a partisan political piñata."
The bipartisan House committee report concludes that the "documents reflect several successful efforts by Abramoff to urge White House action -- or inaction -- regarding political endorsements." And often those efforts were made at least partly through Ralston -- with her largely serving in an apparently administrative capacity.
Abramoff's lobbying team, for instance, urged White House officials, including Rove and Mehlman, to essentially fire Allen Stayman, an employee of the U.S. State Department who advocated labor reforms in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Abramoff represented the Marianas Islands government as a lobbyist. "Mehlman said he would get him fired," one Abramoff lobbyist wrote to another.
On July 9, 2001, Ralston e-mailed Abramoff that the Office of Presidential Personnel and the State Department had "worked out a deal" and that Stayman would "be out in 4 months." Stayman's appointment was not renewed.
On Oct. 9, 2002, Abramoff e-mailed Mehlman to seek the president's endorsement for Republican candidates running in Guam. Days later, Ralston wrote back that "Ken asked me to let you know that he has the quote to be approved for your Guam candidates."
The White House Office of Political Affairs sent Abramoff an endorsement calling the candidates "strong, effective leaders" with the president promising that "my Administration will work closely with them to see Guam remains a trusted friend."
Abramoff was able to use his connections and influence to permeate the inner reaches of the White House even at a time when the United States was reeling from the 9/11 attacks and preparing for war in Afghanistan.
During the 2001 gubernatorial race in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Abramoff lobbied the administration to withhold support for Republican candidate Juan Babauta; Abramoff supported rival third-party candidate Benigno Fitial, then speaker of the House in the Commonwealth.
On Oct. 26, 2001, Abramoff wrote to Mehlman that Babauta had "undercut Congressional Republicans at every turn" and stating that an "endorsement would be a mistake." Four days later, Ralston told Abramoff that Rove had "read your memo." On Oct. 31, 2001, Ralston wrote to Abramoff: "You win :). KR said no endorsement."
In another instance, on Jan. 17, 2002, Abramoff asked Ralston if he could meet with Rove regarding the Choctaw Native American Indian tribe, stating that "they are getting screwed" by a liberal Republican at the Department of Justice "about funding for their jail project."
The Choctaw, Abramoff wrote, have "been one of the party's best helpers, and this is totally incredible."
Ralston told Abramoff that Rove was unavailable but recommended a meeting with Ruben Barrales, the director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, who, Ralston assured, "works directly under karl [sic]."