Golf fans with a nose for politics will want to pay attention to the retrial of David Safavian, the former White House aide who has been charged with corruption and obstruction of justice, and linked to imprisoned lobbyist and golf-junket planner Jack Abramoff. Jury selection for the trial began yesterday and "besides the typical questions about fairness, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman also asked jurors: 'Do any of you play golf?'" the Washington Post reported.
Friedman wasn’t looking for a fourball. He was, we can assume, trying to weed out any golf nuts who might not see the harm in one of several charges Safavian is facing: concealing facts about the lavish and now-infamous golf trip that Abramoff arranged for Safavian and seven others to St. Andrews in the summer of 2002. Safavian was originally convicted of that charge, among others, in 2006, but it was thrown out on appeal. He was re-indicted in October.
Safavian doesn’t just love golf. His addiction appears extreme. Here’s how Talking Points Memo called the action in his 2006 trial: First, [prosecutors] say Safavian lied in order to go on that golf trip to St. Andrews, Scotland with Abramoff, associates and lawmakers. Second, they say he loves golf so much that he was susceptible to Abramoff's seductions: "dangling" the prospect of working as a lobbyist at Jack's firm, “where [Safavian] could make a great deal of money, and play a great deal of golf...” (TPM also procured a copy of Abramoff’s itinerary for the Scotland trip, well worth checking out if you’re planning a junket of your own.)
Opening statements for the new trial are scheduled to begin Dec. 9.