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Former Abramoff associate quits law firm

A lobbyist tied to the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal has resigned from the law firm where he worked, company officials said Monday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A lobbyist tied to the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal has resigned from the law firm where he worked, company officials said Monday.

Kevin Ring worked with Abramoff until early 2005 and previously was an aide to California GOP Rep. John Doolittle, whose ties to the convicted GOP lobbyist are under investigation in the ongoing corruption probe.

Ring resigned effective last Friday from Barnes & Thornburg LLP, said managing partner Alan A. Levin. Ring joined Barnes & Thornburg after leaving Abramoff's firm, Greenberg Traurig LLP.

Barnes & Thornburg is based in Indianapolis and has offices throughout the Midwest and in Washington. Ring worked in the Washington office and focused on legislative issues.

Levin declined to comment on why Ring resigned. Ring's attorney, Richard Hibey, said Ring resigned of his own accord.

"He is being responsive to whatever is going on," Hibey said. He would not comment on whether Ring is cooperating with the Abramoff investigation.

Lobbyist probe continues
In 2005, Ring exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when he was brought before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee investigating the Abramoff scandal.

The Abramoff case advanced last month with a guilty plea from former Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles, who admitted in federal court that he lied to investigators about his relationship with Abramoff.

Abramoff, who is cooperating with the government, bilked his Indian clients out of tens of millions of dollars with promises to influence decisions coming out of Congress and the Interior Department.

Abramoff's ties to Doolittle and at least two former Republican lawmakers have come under scrutiny in the criminal probe: former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas and former Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana. None of them has been charged; all have denied wrongdoing.

One former House member, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, already is serving a jail term on a guilty plea.

Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra declined comment on Ring.

Ring worked for Doolittle from 1993 through 1997 as a legislative assistant and then legislative director in his Washington office and remains on friendly terms with the congressman. In 2000, while working with Abramoff, he discussed with Abramoff the possibility of getting a job for Doolittle's wife, according to an e-mail released by the Democratic staff of the Senate Finance Committee.

Julie Doolittle later went to work on retainer for Abramoff doing event planning.

Doolittle has numerous ties to Abramoff including accepting campaign cash from him, interceding on behalf of his tribal clients and using his sports box for a fundraiser without initially reporting it. He says he has done nothing wrong and has not been contacted by the Justice Department in the probe, but last year he hired a criminal defense lawyer.

Ring's resignation was first reported by