Tuesday, November 08, 2011

"the moment I said that to them . . .that was it. We owned them" Jack Abramoff

Here's what Jack Abramoff said to Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes Sunday:
“When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him or her at some point, ‘You know, when you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.’ Now the moment I said that to them or any of our staff said that to ’em, that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna do. And not only that, they’re gonna think of things we can’t think of to do.”
In the Alaska corruption trials, both Pete Kott and Bruce Weyhrauch were offered possible future jobs by Bill Allen.  And both, as the FBI tapes showed, did his bidding on the House floor in Juneau.  Bill Allen even told Pete Kott, "I own your ass."  It seems Alaskans speak the same language they speak in DC.

I would note that Abramoff who made, according to the CBS video, $20,000,000 a year lobbying, and in his own words 'owned' 100 offices, got a four year sentence. 

Tom Anderson's crime, and I'm retelling this from memory you can get the precise charges here, was a vague scheme to have a lobbyist pay $10,000 to an Alaska public policy website which would pay Anderson for work he did on the site. He did get paid, and deposited it directly into his account.   In exchange, Anderson talked to a few people, including a commissioner and a community meeting, about the need for building facilities for kids in Alaska so they didn't get sent out of state.  He did this without revealing his relationship to the lobbyist.  Nor did he report the $10,000 to APOC. But he didn't write or change any legislation.  He got sentenced to five years compared to Abramoff's four years.  

Every politician I've ever talked to thinks he's being ethical.  And many if not most are. But even if they aren't they think they are. Here's Abramoff's take:
"Most Congressmen don't feel they're being bought.  Most Congressmen, in their own minds, can justify the system. . . by the way, we wanted, as lobbyists, for them to think that way."
You can watch the 14 minute segment here.

Abramoff's suggestion for fighting DC corruption is to ban anyone who works for Congress to ever become a lobbyist.  We might consider that here in Alaska.  Except guess who makes the laws?  Lobbyists, staffers, and legislators.  

He also talks about getting language put into bills that's absolutely precise but no one would every know what it was for.  Seems like that's precisely what Don Young did to fund that highway in Florida that the people in Florida didn't even want.

I found this video through Cliff Groh's Alaska Political Corruption blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.