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Jack Abramoff book turning D.C. upside down
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 11/03/2011 @ 1:51 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
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:
Bogardus reports Abramoff “paints an ugly picture of the lobbying industry in ‘Capitol Punishment,’ arguing that everyone on Capitol Hill and K Street is complicit in a system of favors and influence-peddling.”
“No finger food, no snacks, no hot dogs. Nothing,” he writes. “If you choose public service, choose it to serve the public, not your bank account. When you’re done serving, go home. Get a real job.”
The report says Abramoff calls the committee’s chairman, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as “classic narcissist,” while he said former Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., “hurled invectives” at him, even though he took “$25,000 in campaign checks” from him. The report said Campbell called the narrative a lie.
The report shows him saying lobbyists are arrogant and will always have the attitude that “We’re smarter than they are and we’ll overcome it.”
CBS calls the book as “a buyer’s guide to purchasing influence in Washington.”
Abramoff told CBS bribery is “done every day and it’s still being done.” And he said the fastest and surest method was to promise of a future, high-paying job to a member’s top staffers.
“Now the moment I said that to them or any of our staff said that to them, that was it. We owned them. … Every request … of our clients, 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.”
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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