Congress abramoff-on-60-minutes

Published on November 7th, 2011 | by Jeremy Bloom

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How does the 1 percent fix the game? Convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff spills the beans on 60 Minutes

corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff bares all on 60 minutesOne of the biggest complaints of the Occupy Wall Street Movement is that the 1 percent have rigged the game so that the rest of us have no hope of winning. By spending millions of dollars on lobbyists and campaign cash, they get billions and even trillions in benefits, which the rest of us have to pay for.

Now, one of the worst of the worst in the insider influence-peddling game, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has gone on 60 minutes to confess.

If you’re not angry, it’s because you haven’t been paying attention. Here are a few excerpts:

  • I was so far into it that I couldn’t figure out where right and wrong was. I believed that I was among the top moral people in the business. I was totally blinded by what was going on.
  •  I was actually thinking of writing a book – “The Idiot’s Guide to Buying a Congressman” – as a way to put this all down. First, I think most congressmen don’t feel they’re being bought. Most congressmen, I think, can in their own mind justify the system.
  • When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him or her at some point, “You know, when you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.” Now the moment I said that to them or any of our staff said that to ‘em, that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna do. And not only that, they’re gonna think of things we can’t think of to do… We probably had very strong influence in 100 offices at the time.
  • At the end of the day most of the people that I encountered who worked on Capitol Hill wanted to come work on K Street, wanted to be lobbyists.
  •  We crafted language that was so obscure, so confusing, so uninformative, but so precise to change the U.S. code. [Such as: "Public law 100-89 is amended by striking section 207 (101 stat. 668, 672)", which benefited an Abramoff client]
  • The reform efforts continually are these faux-reform efforts where they’ll change, they’ll tweak the system. They’ll say, “You can have a meal with a congressman if they’re standing up, not sitting down” … You can’t take a congressman to lunch for $25 and buy him a hamburger or a steak of something like that. But you can take him to a fundraising lunch and not only buy him that steak, but give him $25,000 extra and call it a fundraiser.
  • I think people are under the impression that the corruption only involves somebody handing over a check and getting a favor. And that’s not the case. The corruption, the bribery, call it, because ultimately that’s what it is. That’s what the whole system is… it is done everyday and it is still being done. The truth is there were very few members who I could even name or could think of who didn’t at some level participate in that.

Full transcript here. Watch the full video here (sorry, embedding doesn’t seem to be working at the moment)

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About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He just moved to Los Angeles, and continues trying to change the world in positive ways.



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