Jack Abramoff’s guide to buying congressmen

at 09:49 AM ET, 11/07/2011

Disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff is out of jail. He was released in June. He now works as an accountant at a kosher pizza parlor. And he needs a literary agent. “I was actually thinking of writing a book,” he told “60 Minutes.” “The Idiot’s Guide to Buying a Congressman.”

In the interview, Abramoff gives away some of the tricks of his former trade. The big one? Dangle a job, he told Lesley Stahl. “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.”

Abramoff had softer methods, too. “I spent over a million dollars a year on tickets to sporting events and concerts and whatnot at all the venues,” he says. “I had two people on my staff whose virtual full-time job was booking tickets. We were Ticketmaster for these guys.”

Once the key staffers or legislators were bought, the trick was getting clients what they wanted without attracting attention. “So what we did was we crafted language that was so obscure, so confusing, so uninformative, but so precise.” The following line of text, for instance, quietly won Abramoff’s Native American clients a casino license: “Public law 100-89 is amended by striking section 207 (101 stat. 668, 672).”

“Now isn’t that obvious what that means?” chortles Abramoff. “It was perfect. It was perfect.”

Abramoff’s transgressions led to a series of reform bills. So Stahl asked Abramoff directly: “Could you do the same thing today?” Abramoff didn’t even hesitate. “Yeah,” he said. “The system hasn’t been cleaned up at all.”

 
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