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Jack Abramoff book turning D.C. upside down



Jack Abramoff’s autobiographical bombshell “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist” isn’t even at the bookstores yet, but it’s already causing a firestorm on Capitol Hill and among Washington’s powerful lobbying community.

Most Washington power players thought Abramoff was gone and buried in a federal prison, and didn’t even realize he was released – let alone that he was penning what is clearly the most devastating attack on special interest power in decades. The book is not due on the shelves until Monday, but scores of lobbying shops are scouring the town to obtain one of the few copies in circulation to prepare their spin and damage control.

From the reaction on Capitol Hill, Abramoff is the new public enemy No. 1. He not only outs powerful senators and congressmen, and reveals previously unknown inside information, but he sets forth a reform plan which would rock the fraternal inside-the-Beltway culture.

Yesterday, lobbying firms were huddling to coordinate an attack on Abramoff, while press secretaries of Congress members named in the book are churning out counter-attacks as quickly as they can. And an executive at a major PR firm panicked that Abramoff’s book has “press flacks all over the city scrambling this morning.”

But official Washington does not have the option of ignoring Hurricane Jack, since he will be featured on :60 Minutes” on Sunday, the “Today” show and Sean Hannity (radio and TV) on Monday, CNN’s Piers Morgan on Tuesday, “Fox & Friends” Wednesday, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Thursday and much more.

CBS is already promoting Abramoff’s revelations with this clip from Sunday night’s “60 Minutes” interview:

In the interview, Abramoff characterizes congressional efforts to end lobbying corruption in Washington as “faux reform,” citing “improved” rules that prohibit a lobbyist from taking a congressman out for a $25 hamburger lunch, but allow him to take the same congressman to a “fundraising event” and give him $25,000.

“The people who made the reforms … are the people in the system,” he said. “The system hasn’t been cleaned up at all,” he tells Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes.” 

Publicists for Abramoff’s book report being flooded with requests for advance copies, to the point of being approached at 9 p.m. with a massive box of candy as an offering.

Among the revelations that already have surfaced and the reaction they have elicited:

The scandals triggered by Abramoff led to the convictions of 20 people for payoffs in exchange for political favors, including Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohaio. Abramoff was released in June after nearly fours years in federal prison.

Published by WND Books, “Capitol Punishment” also reveals that Abramoff is “a smart, funny, charming, clear-eyed narrator who confounds every expectation of the media’s villainous portrait.” Adds the publisher: “While he is the villain in the black fedora hat to most of the world, this narrative unearths Abramoff, the human being – tortured, troubled, guilt-ridden, broken, sorrowful, penitent. There are lessons in this book for all – a compelling and redemptive story.”

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See what really happened, from the insider who was there, in “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist”