The new era of lobbying - Chapter 3 : The turning point Jack Abramoff

Alain-Patrick Umucyo By Alain-Patrick Umucyo, 18th Nov 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/323wgfcu/
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Ethics

The precedent set by Bradford L. Smith unveils a new tendency in the lobbying domain : to supplant governments in favour of big companies.(1) It is an incidental element from which the new era of lobbying(2) can be inferred. The decisive element is to be drawn from the turning point embodied by Jack Abramoff.

1 The stereotypical crooked lobbyist

To introduce an interview in the program 60 Minutes broadcast by the American channel CBS, Jack Abramoff was depicted as “ may be the most notorious and crooked lobbyist of all time"(3). Before having to bear this depiction, he reached the fame of a successful career.

His official biography states that : “in 1994, he joined the lobbying division of the law firm headed by father . Abramoff set 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.”(4)

Lesley Stahl, host of 60 Minutes, adds that : “ he became a master at showering gifts on lawmakers in return for their vote on legislation and tax breaks favourable to his clients. He was so good at it he took home 20 million dollars a year. It all came crushing down five years ago when Jack Abramoff plead guilty to corrupting public officials, tax evasion and fraud and served three and half years in prison. Today he is a symbol of how money corrupt Washington."(5)

2 Making amends

When interviewed by Ms Stahl after he spent three and half years in prison, the first words of Jack Abramoff are scented with delusion. As if testifying again, he reveals his crooked lobbying tricks. He starts however by exposing his accomplices : "Most congressmen, I think, can in their own mind justify , rationalise and by the way we wanted as lobbyists them to feel that way."(6)

Mr Abramoff used, among others, two methods to win the support of lawmakers. The first one consisted in “showering gifts”. Those bribes could be travelling in a private jet, the best tickets for the top sport matches or also free consumption in Mr Abramoff's high-end restaurant in Washington. As to the legality of these undertakings, the “crooked” concedes : "We would certainly try to make the activity legal, if we could ; at times, we didn't care."(7)

The second method consisted in offering a better-paid job to a staffer of a Member of Congress' office as a "way to get a congressional office to his bidding"(8). As soon as the method was successful, says Mr Abramoff : " we own them and what is that mean ? Every request from our office, every request from our clients, everything that we want, they're gonna do. And not only that, they're gonna think of things we cannot think of to do."(9) "At the end of the day, most of the people that I encountered, who worked on Capitol Hill, wanted to work on K Street. They wanted to be lobbyists.”(10)

The present chapter is part of The new era of lobbying volume.

SOURCES

Picture : ace_bey. How a bill becomes a law. 05 November 2014. Instagram. <http://instagram.com/p/u_w005Fp-p/> accessed 18 November 2014

(1) UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. The new era of lobbying - Chapter 4 : The precedent set by Bradford L. Smith. . 16 November 2014. Wikinut. <http://nut.bz/2i6lv8lb/> accessed 18 November 2014

(2) UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. The new era of Lobbying. . Google Docs <https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1yqPy3gf7EcqHSPK3j4yy1nRHlPBJ9nyElj13qiRFiHM/edit?usp=sharing> accessed 30 May 2016

(3) STAHL Lesley, ABRAMOFF Jack. Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist's playbook . 06 November 2011. Youtube. <http://youtu.be/CHiicN0Kg10> accessed 15 November 2014

(4) ABRAMOFF. Biography . Abramoff. <http://abramoff.com/biography/> accessed 15 November 2014

(5) STAHL Lesley, ABRAMOFF Jack. Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist's playbook . 06 November 2011. Youtube. 00:12 <http://youtu.be/CHiicN0Kg10?t=12s> accessed 15 November 2014

(6) STAHL Lesley, ABRAMOFF Jack. Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist's playbook . 06 November 2011. Youtube. 01:57 <http://youtu.be/CHiicN0Kg10?t=1m57s> accessed 15 November 2014

(7) STAHL Lesley, ABRAMOFF Jack. Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist's playbook . 06 November 2011. Youtube. 03:07 <http://youtu.be/CHiicN0Kg10?t=3m7s> accessed 15 November 2014

(8) STAHL Lesley, ABRAMOFF Jack. Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist's playbook . 06 November 2011. Youtube. 03:15 <http://youtu.be/CHiicN0Kg10?t=3m15s> accessed 15 November 2014

(9) STAHL Lesley, ABRAMOFF Jack. Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist's playbook . 06 November 2011. Youtube. 03:43 <http://youtu.be/CHiicN0Kg10?t=3m43s> accessed 15 November 2014

(10) STAHL Lesley, ABRAMOFF Jack. Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist's playbook . 06 November 2011. Youtube. 04:59 <http://youtu.be/CHiicN0Kg10?t=4m59s> accessed 15 November 2014

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author avatar Alain-Patrick Umucyo
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Comments

author avatar Retired
30th Dec 2014 (#)

So, where were the arresting officers when the corrupt politicians, Congressmen, and government officials accepted the illegal bribes they called "gifts" from unscrupulous lobbyists? It seems like only the lobbyists go to jail.

Government by corruption is what we have. Like a fish, it stinks from the head.

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