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Linder says he wasn't aware of Abramoff ties to contributions

Congressmen have been donating campaign funds to charity since lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty this month to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public

officials.

Politicians across the country have been trying to distance themselves from the lobbyist, mostly by donating to charity contributions from Abramoff or the tribes he worked for.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston announced he would donate the money he had received from Abramoff.

U.S. Rep. John Linder, though, has already spent the only money he received related to the lobbyist.

"When I received a campaign contribution from members of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in 2002, I was not aware of their connection with Jack Abramoff, nor have I ever met him. I accepted it as I did thousands of other legitimate contributions from around the country at that time, and I used it at that time for re-election," he said in a statement.

Abramoff has ties to Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Ralph Reed, who once worked as a subcontractor in Abramoff's work to lobby against casinos. The work was funded by American Indian tribes. Reed has not been accused of a crime.

State of the County

Later this week, Gwinnett's chairman will give his second State of the County speech.

Charles Bannister will give the update to a joint meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and Council for Quality Growth at noon Thursday.

"We are excited to hear Chairman Bannister's outlook for the coming year at the 2006 State of the County Address. Chairman Bannister achieved great strides in 2005 in improving our quality of life and Gwinnett's economic viability. His address will encourage us to build upon this success for the future of Gwinnett County," said Jim Maran, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Post. Camie Young can be reached at camie.young

@gwinnettdailypost.com.