By Andrew J. Ireland
WASHINGTON – Once known as the “King of K Street,” he later was branded by Time magazine as “The Man Who Bought Washington” and went to prison.
Now Jack Abramoff is back, in yet another role, fighting against corruption, government malfeasance and … Bolshevism?
In an interview with WND, Abramoff, once America’s most notorious lobbyist, sees nothing but radical candidates “coming down the pipe” for Democrats for the 2016 presidential election.
“Hillary, Elizabeth Warren and some of these other people who just are pure Bolsheviks it seems, and you have to wonder what’s left?” he asked. “What have they not taken over that they’re going to take over? I promise you they will find something.”
He says the federal government simply is “out of control.”
Over a span of 10 years, Abramoff became the most powerful lobbyist on Capitol Hill. Congressmen lined up to do his bidding, executives heeded his advice and heads of government hung on his every word.
But eventually scandal brought him down. He was the centerpiece of the largest D.C. scandal since Watergate and was sentenced to prison. He became the poster child a political system that needed to be cleaned up.
In his New York Times bestseller, “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist,” he pulls back the curtain on K Street, exposing the dirty underbelly of America’s government and offering a harsh, thorough roster of reform imperatives.
Abramoff believes the federal government is too large and too corruptible. He should know best.
“We have a 100 years of people coming to Washington to get more power for themselves,” he warned. “You have an entire political party dedicated to that proposition.”
The Democrats are not the only culprits, he insisted.
“Unfortunately, you have far too many Republicans that don’t understand that [it] is not nearly sufficient to oppose the increase of the federal government,” he said.
“Republicans seem to be too timid to do it. … Democrats don’t want to do it. That’s their goal,” he said.
Instead of continuing a timid approached, Abramoff said Republicans “have to aggressively pursue the rollback of the federal government.”
“The federal government is completely outside and out of control,” he said.
Abramoff said the overreach is broadly acknowledged.
“Even liberals agree to this now. Even Ralph Nader has come out in support of this,” he said.
“Nevertheless, they don’t stop,” Abramoff said.
Cutting back federal overreach, he said, “involves electing people to Congress who are willing to not go to the Washington establishment parties.”
Abramoff is calling on lawmakers to “be outliers.” He believes Congress should take a stand and say “no matter what, we’re cutting back, we’re defunding lots of things the federal government should not be involved in.”
He recommends all members “take the Constitution and look at what the federal government should be doing and not all these bizarre interpretations and the cut out everything else.”
There is much to the Abramoff saga that almost no one has heard before. His book is full of surprises, news and entertaining anecdotes that provide insight into many of the escapades and surreal dealings in Abramoff’s life.
While he is the villain in the black fedora hat to most of the world, his book unearths Abramoff the human being: tortured, troubled, guilt-ridden, broken and sorrowful. There are lessons in his story for all.
Already, two motion pictures based on Abramoff’s story have been released.
His memoir is to serve as a corrective – an engrossing, informative work of political nonfiction that is also a gripping real-life thriller. The biggest surprise twist comes in the form of Abramoff himself, a smart, funny, charming, clear-eyed narrator who confounds every expectation of the media’s villainous portrait.
He’s a perfect bundle of contradictions: an Orthodox Jew and upstanding family man with a staunch moral streak, caught in multiple scandals of bribery and corruption.
Abramoff represented Indian tribes whose lucrative casinos were constantly under threat from proposed changes in law. Though he charged the tribes many millions, he saved them billions by ensuring votes to support the livelihoods of their reservations.
Much of Abramoff’s share was funneled not into his own coffers but to charities. Abramoff on the front pages could not be further from the Abramoff who’s ready to tell his honest and compelling story.
Having served 43 months in federal prison, few know more than he about how Washington really works. Abramoff once famously labeled the federal government as the “favor factory”.
Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and raised in Beverly Hills, California, Abramoff graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in English literature and opera. At Brandeis, Abramoff commenced his political career, heading the state-wide College Republican group and was credited with delivering Massachusetts to Ronald Reagan in 1980, the first time since Eisenhower that a Republican would win the Bay State. With that victory notched on his belt, Abramoff was elected as the national chairman of the College Republicans and built the organization into the largest student political organization in the free world.
His next position foreshadowed his rise to national prominence, as he was chosen to head President Reagan’s grassroots lobbying organization. In that role, Abramoff honed the lobbying skills he would later deploy to become the nation’s top legislative advocate. Under his leadership, the organization moved major Reagan administration initiatives through Congress and sponsored the world’s first convocation of anti-Soviet forces in the bush of southern Africa.
As the Reagan era wound down, Abramoff moved from the world of politics to the world of cinema, becoming a motion picture producer and making action-adventure films, including “Red Scorpion.” His international experience in structuring motion picture finance made him a popular lecturer at Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated in 1986. But the siren call of power drew Abramoff back to his roots, and in 1994, he joined the lobbying division of the law firm headed by Bill Gates’ father. Abramoff put his extraordinary talents to work and, within a few years, built one of the nation’s most prestigious and profitable lobbying practices. As Abramoff continued to build, his political base expanded, and soon he found himself at the top of his profession.
When a corporation, Indian tribe or foreign nation needed to win, they went to Abramoff. With his eclectic hand-picked team of lobbying guns, Abramoff never lost, and his clients 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 that made his power possible.
Abramoff had it all. And then it was gone. In an instant, his world collapsed and he eventually landing in federal prison, his name becoming synonymous with corruption and what’s wrong with government.
The fall from grace changed Abramoff. And now, he is determined to do all he can to identify and help end the corruption of the system he so well played.
His book, “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist,” will not only serve as a cautionary tale but as an historic platform.
Andrew Ireland is an intern for WND