David Safavian

David Safavian
David Safavian

David Hossein Safavian (born August 4, 1967) is a former chief of staff of the United States General Services Administration (GSA) and a figure in the Jack Abramoff lobbying and corruption scandal.

In 2004, he was an employee of the Office of Management and Budget. He was arrested and charged with crimes in connection with the Abramoff corruption scandal. He was convicted and, on October 27, 2006, sentenced to 18 months in prison. However, on June 17, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously reversed Safavian's convictions, and ordered a new trial. On December 19, 2008, at his retrial, he was again convicted.


Career prior to GSA

An Iranian-American from Grosse Ile, Michigan, Safavian graduated fifth in his class at Detroit College of Law. In Michigan, he served as an aide to Congressmen Robert William Davis (R-MI) and Bill Schuette (R-MI), and still later he worked for the lobbying firm of Janus-Merritt Strategies.

Safavian was a longtime friend of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In the mid-1990s, the two worked at the Washington-based lobbying firm of Preston Gates & Ellis. There they brought in millions to the firm while working on the Mississippi Choctaw tribal account. The pair were members of a team, reports CNN, “that was lobbying to keep the Northern Mariana Islands [a US territory] free from certain US labor and immigration laws.”

In 1997, Safavian and Grover Norquist founded a lobbying firm, the Merritt Group, which was renamed Janus-Merritt Strategies (and is sometimes referred to as "Janus Merritt" or simply "Janus"). The tenor of the firm was fiercely ideological. "We represent clients who really do have an interest in a smaller federal government," Safavian told Legal Times in a 1997 interview. "We're all very ideologically driven, and have a bias in favor of free markets." He went on: "We're not letting people who offer us money change our principles."

The firm's clients included businesses like BP America, the U.S. division of British Petroleum. There were foreign companies like the Corporacion Venezolana de Cementos and Grupo Financiero Banorte. There were gaming interests, including Indian tribes: the Saginaw Chippewa - a client the firm shared with Jack Abramoff, the Viejas band of Kumeyaay Indians, and the National Indian Gaming Commission.[1] Safavian also registered as a lobbyist for the government of Pakistan, the government of Gabon, and Pascal Lissouba, the former president of the Republic of the Congo.

In 1999, Safavian founded the Internet Consumer Choice Coalition, a nonprofit one purpose of which was to fight a bill authored by Republican Arizona senator Jon Kyl that would have made online gambling a federal crime. Coalition members included the American Civil Liberties Union, the Association of Concerned Taxpayers, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Interactive Services Association, the Small Business Survival Committee, and the United States Internet Council. Some coalition members—the Interactive Services Association, for one—were also clients of Safavian's. Another, Americans for Tax Reform, was Norquist's activist group.[1] An Oct. 12, 2006 Senate Finance Committee report[2] concludes most of these organizations abused their tax exempt status.

In January 2001, Safavian left Janus-Merritt to become Chief of Staff for Representative Chris Cannon.

Federal positions

In early 2002, Safavian began looking for a new job. On February 4, 2002, he sent lobbyist Jack Abramoff his resume, receiving a very positive response five days later. In mid-April, Safavian interviewed at Greenberg Traurig, the firm that employed Abramoff. Soon after that he got an offer for a job at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). On April 30, he wrote to Abramoff: "my gut is telling me to take the GSA job before joining up with you and your band of merry men."[3]

On May 16, 2002, GSA Administrator Stephen A. Perry named Safavian as Senior Advisor and Acting Deputy Chief of Staff at the GSA. He took the place of Angela Styles, an advisor known for challenging Congressional pressure to award contracts. "The most serious challenge to Styles came from Rep. Tom Davis (R.-Va.), the chairman of the House Government Reform Committee."[4] Two months later, Safavian was named Chief of Staff of the GSA to replace Brian Allan Jackson, who was leaving the agency to pursue an MBA from Harvard Business School.

On November 4, 2003, President George W. Bush announced Safavian's nomination to be the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President.,[5] where he set purchasing policy for the entire government.[6]

Indictment, trial, conviction, reversal by the court of appeals & sentencing

A picture at Carnoustie, the famed Scottish golf course. From left to right: convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, golf organizer Jason Murdoch, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, convicted former Bush administration official David Safavian and convicted former Congressman Bob Ney

David Safavian was indicted October 5, 2005. He was accused of making false statements and obstructing investigations into his dealings with Jack Abramoff while he was chief of staff for the General Services Administration. His trial started May 25, 2006. Guilty verdicts on four of five felony counts of lying and obstruction were returned June 20.[7] However, all of the convictions were overturned by the Judges Raymond Randolph, Harry Edwards, and Judith Rodgers of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on June 17, 2008.

The three judge panel of the court of appeals found that the Department of Justice had vastly overreached in charging Safavian. Moreover, the appeals court found that the trial court had committed reversible error by allowing the Justice Department to use the equivalent of expert witness testimony, but did not grant Safavian with the same latitude. Because Safavian's defense was unfairly limited, the court overturned all four convictions. In doing so, double jeopardy applies to at least one charge and an additional specification. This leaves only three of the original five charges in which the prosecution can retry Safavian. The unanimous opinion, written by one George H.W. Bush appointee (Randolph), a Carter appointee (Edwards), and a Clinton appointee (Rogers) can be found at: http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/common/opinions/200806/06-3139-1121949.pdf.[8][9] On October 16, 2009 Safavian was sentenced to a year in prison for lying about his association with Jack Abramoff by U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman. Judge Friedman is deferring his prison reporting date to allow him to be with his wife when she delivers their child.

Personal life

David Safavian is married and has a school age daughter.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b Continetti, Matthew (10/10 2005). "Scandal Season". The Weekly Standard 11 (4). http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/148kcyrb.asp?pg=2. Retrieved 2006-06-21. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ TPMmuckraker | Talking Points Memo | From the Safavian Files: Abramoff Goes a-Wooing
  4. ^ Are We Better Off: Contracts With America
  5. ^ Personnel Announcement
  6. ^ Bush Official Arrested in Corruption Probe
  7. ^ Safavian Found Guilty of Lying, Obstruction, Peter Yost, Associated Press
  8. ^ Apuzzo, Matt (June 17, 2008). "US court: New trial for official in Abramoff scandal". Google News (Associated Press). http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5g7jsBAo1GFJpjh_h0vQZrHSxxguwD91BU1H02. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  9. ^ "Big Setback for Federal Abramoff Task Force". The Washington Post. June 17, 2008. http://blog.washingtonpost.com/washingtonpostinvestigations/2008/06/new_trial_ordered_for_abramoff.html?hpid=topnews. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  10. ^ David Safavian

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jennifer Safavian — Jennifer McLaughlin Safavian, is one of twelve counsels for oversight and investigations on the United States Congress House Government Reform Committee, which is responsible for overseeing government procurement.MarriageJennifer is the wife of… …   Wikipedia

  • Jack Abramoff — Infobox Criminal subject name = Jack A. Abramoff image caption = Jack Abramoff testifying before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. date of birth = Birth date and age|1959|2|28|mf=y place of birth = Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. date of death …   Wikipedia

  • Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal — The Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal is a United States political scandal relating to the work performed by political lobbyists Jack Abramoff, Ralph E. Reed, Jr., Grover Norquist and Michael Scanlon on Indian casino gambling interests for an …   Wikipedia

  • Janus-Merritt Strategies — was a lobbying firm founded in 1997 by conservative activist Grover Norquist and then lawyer David Safavian, who would later become better known as the chief of staff in the General Services Administration and for his conviction in the Abramoff… …   Wikipedia

  • Chris Cannon — Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Utah s 3rd district In office January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2009 …   Wikipedia

  • Neil Volz — was Chief of Staff to Representative Bob Ney (R Ohio), staff director of the House Administration Committee, and later part of Team Abramoff, when he left Capitol Hill in February 2002 to work for Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig LLP. In 2006, he… …   Wikipedia

  • Jack Abramoff timeline — 1980s * 1981 Elected Chairman of the College Republican National Committee in a campaign managed by Grover Norquist, the executive director of the CRNC. * 1981 recruits Ralph Reed as an unpaid intern for CNRC. * 1981 1983 With Reed and Norquist,… …   Wikipedia

  • General Services Administration — official seal …   Wikipedia

  • Monetary influence of Jack Abramoff — The monetary influence of Jack Abramoff ran deep in Washington, as Jack Abramoff spent millions of dollars to influence and entertain both Republican and Democrat politicians. Abramoff had a reputation for largesse considered exceptional even by… …   Wikipedia

  • Grover Norquist — Grover Glenn Norquist (born October 19, 1956) is president of anti tax lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform.Early years and careerNorquist, who is of Swedish descent, grew up in Weston, Massachusetts and has a BA and MBA from Harvard… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.