Abramoff: Lobbying reforms haven't fixed 'flawed' system
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of CNN
Posted: November 29th, 2011
Ethics reforms put in place since the influence-peddling scandal surrounding high-rolling lobbyist Jack Abramoff haven't cleaned up the system "at all," a now-free Abramoff says. Abramoff served three and a half years in prison for conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion before his release last December. In an interview ... on CBS News' "60 Minutes," he said the reforms imposed after his guilty plea have little effect while campaign finance remains untouched. "You can't take a congressman to lunch for $25 and buy him a hamburger or a steak or something like that," he said. "But you can take him to a fund-raising lunch and not only buy him that steak, but give him $25,000 extra and call it a fund-raiser -- and have all the same access and all the same interactions with that congressman." Abramoff's interview with "60 Minutes" aired the night before a memoir, Capitol Punishment, is scheduled to hit shelves. Abramoff describes some of the techniques he employed as a lobbyist as "evil," "terrible" and, at the same time, "effective" for his firm, his clients and Republican politicians he usually worked with. Abramoff said the best way to get what he wanted to was to offer high-ranking congressional aides a job when they left public office. Once that was done, he told CBS, "We owned them." "Everything that we want, they're going to do. Not only that, they're going to think of things we can't think of to do," Abramoff said, estimating his office had "very strong influence" on 100 of the 535 congressional offices.
Note: For a powerful, six-minute analysis of legalized corruption based on Abramoff's comments on CBS 60 Minutes, click here. A petty thief steals three times for a total value of a few thousand dollars and by the "three strikes" law ends up in jail for life. Abramoff, along with his assistants, successfully corrupt U.S. Senators and Congress members and serve less than four years in jail. Some of his assistants got off with no jail time. Is the US justice system biased towards the rich?