That’s the restitution that Abramoff owes from his 2006 conviction on charges of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials. Journalism isn’t going to solve his financial difficulties.
But a job writing blog posts assailing the excesses of our troubled influence-peddling system fits the bill for a guy who’s out to sell the public on a complete character overhaul — and not everyone is buying. Says Abramoff: “I’m doing it not for the money. I’m doing it because I believe in it. It’s something I want to do to leave a better mark on the world.”
Got it. So just what is Abramoff going to be doing?
Three to five blog posts a week, says Nick Penniman, president of United Republic, the group behind Republic Report. Not a good enough frequency there, former big-dog lobbyist: If you’re going to call yourself a blogger, you need three to five per day.
Anyhow, Abramoff doesn’t purport to be a journalist. “I’m basically a citizen, a felon. I am what I am. I am able to write and speak,” he says.
Yet Abramoff’s job description sounds journalistic. He’ll be working sources, trying to dig up dirt and fresh perspectives on just how corrupt our democracy has become. “I’m trying to do everything I can within the bounds of propriety,” he says, noting that some posts will involve quoting sources and some will be from the “30,000-foot level.”
His two bloggorific crusades will be to get special-interest money out of politics (something that a blogger has never before accomplished) and stopping the revolving door between government and private-sector service (ibid.).
But what’s a guy with his Republican roots doing teaming up with a guy like Penniman, a veteran of lefty places like the Washington Monthly and the Huffington Post Investigative Fund? “Look, some of my best friends are liberals,” he says.