Neither congressmen, nor senators nor even the former director of the Christian Coalition are safe from the explosive evidence of hypocrisy and corruption being exposed by former notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Abramoff joined Alan Colmes for an interview earlier this week to discuss his new book, which is rattling D.C. insiders to their core, “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist.”
Once Washington, D.C.’s most powerful lobbyist, when Abramoff was fingered for corruption, many inside the Beltway sought to distance themselves from the his shady dealings. But now that Abramoff is out of prison, he’s turned over a new leaf and is determined to expose just how deep the Capitol’s culture of corruption has become.
For example, Abramoff accused former Sen. Ben Campbell of Colorado – who chaired the committee investigating Abramoff – of blatant hypocrisy:
“Sen. Campbell … had breakfast with me,” Abramoff told Colmes. “We had a lovely breakfast where I handed him five $5,000 checks from my tribal clients and basically was told, don’t worry, they won’t have any trouble in his committee.”
Abramoff continued, “[Yet Campbell] was the one leading the charge accusing me of corruption. I so wanted to say, ‘Corruption? You mean like our breakfast, senator?’”
Ralph Reed Jr., former director of the Christian Coaltion, was also among those who distanced themseves from Abramoff.
Reed told Colmes in a 2010 interview that he had insisted in his dealings with Abramoff: “I got one rule: I will not be paid with any gambling revenues.”
Reed explained that though Abramoff worked for Native American tribes extensively tied to gambling interests, the lobbyist had promised to arrange payment for Reed from non-gambling related business ventures.
Abramoff told Colmes, however, that conversation with Reed “never happened.”
“It’s ridiculous,” Abramoff said. “I mean, even the tribes that had other business, 99 percent of their revenue came from gaming. But a lot of those tribes had nothing but gaming.”
In fact, Abramoff said of Reed’s D.C. dealings, “I basically thought he was a tap dancer and just constantly asking for money, and I thought, unfortunately, we were better tap dancers in those days.”
Abramoff also discussed former Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan, who not only railed against Abramoff’s corruption but has since attacked the former lobbyist’s book, “Capitol Punishment.”
Abramoff told Colmes that Dorgan came out with “all sorts of vitriol, remonstrating about how I carried on a corrupt individual; and, meanwhile, I think he had accepted … probably like $75,000 in checks from my clients and my team.”
Abramoff fell from Washington’s grace when, by his own admission, he stepped over the line in his efforts to influence members of Congress.
After years of congressmen lining up to do his bidding, executives heeding his every word and heads of government giving him attention, he ended up in prison and his name became synonymous with government corruption.
But he took the fall as a wake-up call, and he now admits he did wrong. He lost sight of the “line,” and he had plenty of time to reflect during his 43-month prison sentence. He has paid the price, and now he is ready and willing to discuss details – as well as his unique insight into the systemic reforms needed to prevent others from falling into “disgrace.”
Now a free man, “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth about Washington Corruption from America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist,” is Abramoff’s autobiographical exposé unveiling the mysterious and corrupt world of federal politics.
In his book, Abramoff not only “outs” senators and members of Congress and sets out the details of insider deals previously unknown to most, but he also offers a Capitol Hill reform plan to rock the fraternal inside-the-Beltway culture.