Jack Abramoff – he’s scum. – Paul Begala, CNN Crossfire.
The most evil lobbyist ever to be operating in Washington. – Margaret Carlson, Capital Gang.
He’s a creep and we hate him. – Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio).
And I hope he goes to jail and we never see him again. I wish he’d never been born. – Senator Conrad Burns (R-Montana).
A child of Beverly Hills and an aggressive high school football player, Abramoff cut his political teeth in the college Republican movement in the late 1970s alongside well-known movement conservatives such as Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist. To win election as chairman of the College Republican National Committee, for example, he had Reed distribute “scurrilous pamphlets” about his opponent. “I didn’t pause to consider niceties,” he writes. He helped President Ronald Reagan sell higher military spending to Congress, then became a filmmaker before joining the powerful lobbying firm Preston Gates in 1994.
Abramoff details how Reed was handsomely paid to craft cynical appeals to religious conservatives and African American churches; his aim was to enlist their support in supposed efforts to stop the expansion of gambling in Southern states, in order to protect tribal gambling monopolies.
“Not only should Ralph not have denied taking the money, he should have been proud about it,” Abramoff writes in a passage.
Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and author of the famous pledge that many conservative lawmakers have taken against raising taxes, is similarly depicted as an advocate for hire, who collected substantial fees from groups such as the tribes and companies such as Microsoft that sought to avoid federal levies or regulations.
The Washington lobbying industry is sustained by the illusion that campaign contributions are merely a way of recognizing political kinships, rather than a reward for legislative action or inducements for favorable treatment. In his portrayal of the legislative process, Abramoff repeatedly trashes this polite fiction.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) was one of our most dependable Senate assets, for example. We plied his staff with every trinket we had. When we were done, they loved us. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was very much a secret weapon in our lobbying efforts who helped out after our clients showered Reid and his staff with contributions, tickets to events, and every other gratuity imaginable.
It’s not that they are out there purposely trying to do the wrong thing, any more than I was. The problem is that the atmosphere is very corrupt … the American people are sick of this, watching these guys coming to Congress and pontificate and preach how people should be, and then they are making a fortune out of the fact they are in Congress, are beholden to lobbyists or other special interests. The Americans are sick of the amounts of money these guys are spending, and they can’t even cut the budget or admit they have a problem – they are like alcoholics that can’t admit they have a drinking problem.
Sure. There were Congressmen there – there were very few – such as Congressman Dana Rohrabacher from California, who didn’t play golf, had no interest in it, and whenever he and I would go to dinner, he would pay. He never really cared about raising money, that’s why he never really moved up in terms of the rankings, because it’s all based on the money you raise.”
Washington corruption is still here and most of it is legal. One of the most effective ways for us to control a Congressional office is to offer the chief of staff a job when they decide to leave Capitol Hill. And for the time they remained as the chief of staff, we were in control of that office. He or she wasn’t going to allow anything to happen that wouldn’t featherbed where they were going later. They went out of their way. They overperformed in many cases. It is really an incredibly corrupt aspect of what goes on out there.
If you work on Capitol Hill, or at the White House, you cannot then go to work on K Street. Engage in public service and then go home. Washington is a pit. Get out.
You may hate this ex-convict Jack Abramoff, and refuse to believe anything that he says. However you may also want to read what other DC insiders have said in 2011.
A conversation between CNN Anderson Cooper and Gloria Bolger:
COOPER: Gloria, it seems when you talk to some they don’t care necessarily about being reelected.
BORGER: No! They don’t! These are –
COOPER: Which is actually kind of refreshing, I gotta say.
BORGER: Well, it is, but – BUT!
COOPER: It is a big “but.”
BORGER: But compromise is the way things get done in Washington, and it shouldn’t be a dirty word, I don’t think. Maybe. But I understand that they’re standing on principle. But they’re also standing on the precipice of something, and that is the country going into default.
Some statements about Sen. Roy Blunt by Senate staff and fellow senators:
Supporters of Mr. Blunt, who was first elected to the House in 1996, say his deep knowledge of the House could prove invaluable should Republicans capture the Senate in November. He has longstanding relationship among House members of both parties, including a friendship with Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking House Democrat.
Somebody like Sen. Blunt, who’s not a renegade, doesn’t run without the blessing of the guys in the room. a Republican Senate aide supportive of Johnson.
I’ve known him many, many years. I thought that his experience in the House was a good thing. Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns, a Blunt backer.
Others opted to keep with Senate tradition and not make their votes public.
I wouldn’t tell you – what did Mitt Romney say? – for $10,000. Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl.
One thing I agree with Jack Abramoff about is that Washington is a pit. Whether you are elected or a staffer, do your tour of duty and get out. I don’t agree that any campaign finance laws or regulations are a fix to the problem. The problem is people who have been cashing in, and these people need to be voted out of office. The newly elected people need to bring in their own chiefs of staff, and these new elected people need to care about representing their voting constituents more than getting reelected.
Some laws that could lead to fixing the problem are scrapping the entire US tax code and regulation repeal. If a Senator or Representative can’t add deductions, credits, carveouts, and loopholes into a flat tax, then they lose leverage with the ability to do favors for lobbyists. The same loss of leverage applies to regulations. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s got to happen by electing and sending constitutional conservatives to DC.