Jack Abramoff, the onetime Washington lobbyist who estimated he at one point had 100 members of Congress in his back pocket, has been working since his federal prison stint to encourage Americans to reform their political system.
Now he has a brand new platform to use in that quest: a radio program on Premiere Networks.
The leading audio network in the U.S. said “The Jack Abramoff Show” debuted June 24 and is airing on Sundays from 5-8 p.m. ET on “Talk Radio” – XM channel 168.
Originating from Washington, it features Abramoff’s take on the news and events of the week “from the perspective of a Washington insider and crusader for political reform.”
He told WND that during his years in Washington as a lobbyist, he was able to succeed simply by playing by the rules of a corrupt system, a system he believes must be changed.
“Citizens of our great Republic who are interested in putting an end to the corruption rife in our politics should join the effort being crafted to pass legislation which would end the ability of lobbyists and special interests (including labor unions) to use money to buy a piece of federal government pork,” he told WND.
“We are engaged in drafting historic legislation to effect these ends, and hope it will be unveiled in September of this year,” he said.
Abramoff authored “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist,” which has caused a firestorm among Washington’s powerful lobbying community.
At one time, Abramoff has said, his lobbying firm had an estimated 100 members of Congress in its back pocket.
Abramoff influenced legislators by lavishing them with access to private jets and junkets to the world’s greatest golf destinations, free meals and access to the best tickets to area sporting events. But the best way to peddle influence, Abramoff said, was to tell congressmen’s staffers high-salaried jobs would be waiting after their stint on Capitol Hill.
The moment the job was offered, Abramoff explained, “That was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request from our clients, everything that we want, they’re going to do.”
“It was effective,” Abramoff said. “Most congressmen don’t feel they’re being ‘bought.’ Most congressmen I think, can in their own mind justify the system.”
In the Premiere announcement, Abramoff said, “I may very well be the nation’s most controversial radio host because, unlike others, I was actually involved in the things we talk about on the show. Radio gives me an opportunity to share secrets I couldn’t include in my book, and reveal some of the underbelly of politics other hosts can only imagine.”
“From his experience in Washington to his fall from grace, Jack has a unique and interesting point of view and he’s not shy about sharing it. He’s a natural in front of the microphone and we’re excited to share this new talk program with audiences across the country,” said Julie Talbott, president of Premiere.
According to the Premiere profile of Abramoff: “When a corporation, Indian tribe, or foreign nation needed to win, they went to Team Abramoff, the eclectic hand-picked team of lobbying guns he assembled. Their clients rarely were defeated, and reaped billions of dollars of benefit. Abramoff’s arsenal included his Signatures restaurant, one of the capital’s finest, some of the best sports tickets in the nation, and an unlimited capacity to raise funds to fuel the political system which made his influence possible.”
The profile continues, “Abramoff had it all – and then it was gone. In 2006, he was sentenced to six years in federal prison for mail fraud, conspiracy to bribe public officials and tax evasion. He served four years…”
Months after his release, he came out with his book “Capitol Punishment.”
“The fall from grace changed Jack Abramoff and woke him up. Abramoff is now determined to do all he can to rectify the wrong he did and to identify and help end the corruption of the system he so well played. His orations not only serve as a cautionary tale, but as a historic platform for reform of the system.”
Abramoff explains how lobbyists can game the legislative process to secure payoffs for clients, often without their targets’ express knowledge. By convincing members of Congress to insert into bills backdoor language that is intentionally obscure and draped in legal code, lobbyists can open up sweetheart holes in regulations for their clients.
“We crafted language that was so obscure, so confusing, so uninformative, but so precise, to change the U.S. code,” Abramoff said.
It worked so well, he explained, because, “Members don’t read the bills.”
Former Rep. Bob Ney confirmed Abramoff’s story:
“I had no idea [what the obscure, coded phrases changed in the law]; I didn’t care,” Ney said. “It was a great big shell game. … I was dumb enough to not say, ‘What’s this thing do?’”
In his book, Abramoff “outs” senators and members of Congress and sets out the details of insider deals previously unknown to most. He also sets forth a Capitol Hill reform plan that would rock the fraternal inside-the-Beltway culture.
The scandals triggered by Abramoff led to the convictions of 20 people for payoffs in exchange for political favors, including Ney. Abramoff was released in June after nearly four 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.”