Jack Abramoff, the former lobbyist and now author of “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist,” says he has five questions that would reveal a lot about Washington – if the questions could get asked and answered.
Abramoff, in a column today on WND, includes a challenge to define what is bribery.
“When a lobbyist gives a congressman or federal employee a cup of coffee, is that bribery? How about a meal? How about a trip to Paris? Where do you draw the line on bribery? Many politicians claim that a fancy dinner or $2,000 political contribution ‘won’t buy my vote.’ Do you believe that, or do you think that any gratuity causes an improper relationship between a public servant and a special interest?”
He suggested addressing the questions to Republican president candidates during their next debate.
He said the Obama administration “now presides over an administration barely distinguishable from the corrupt predecessors he so effectively excoriated.”
But neither have Republicans obtained a franchise on integrity, he warned.
“The real elephant in the room at the next Republican debate is government corruption. But it will be ignored as it has been in the past. In the unlikely event the sponsoring television networks insist on impaneling a recently incarcerated former lobbyist as one of their debate interrogators, here are the five questions I would ask these aspiring leaders of the free world,” he writes.
Abramoff also would ask candidates whether, as president, they would “use all [their] power to prohibit any lobbyist, federal contractor, federal grant recipient, and anyone else seeking special favors from the federal government, from contributing even one dollar” to an election campaign.
He also would challenge the GOP candidates to “name something concrete you have done to try to end the obscenity of Congress passing laws which apply to the American people, but not them.”
And he wonders about their perspectives on state and federal office holders “cashing in” on their government service by becoming lobbyists, advisers or consultants. He finished, “If elected, do you pledge to issue a lifetime ban on members of your administration from ever passing through the revolving door to cash in on their government service; and do you promise to push Congress to enact similar legislation barring their members and staff from converting their government service into private economic gain?”
He warns that the cozy links between money and elected officials “has pushed our republic to the end of ruin.”
“Washington doesn’t get it,” he writes. “They think Americans don’t really care if they sell our government to the highest bidder. Or if they become fabulously wealthy exploiting their public service. They are wrong. Americans are getting angry and they are starting to pay attention.”
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.
He took his 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.