A year out of federal custody, Jack Abramoff has written a book. So many questions: Who gets the money? He won’t get rich off it; under a restitution order, the disgraced lobbyist must pay $23 million to clients he ripped off.
So more importantly: Who goes to the book party?
The answer: A lot of people wondering the same.
“I wanted to know who comes to a party for Jack Abramoff,” said Melanie Sloan. As executive director of nonprofit watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, she went to the Tuesday night party at the Palisades home of conservative pundit Tucker Carlson and his wife Susie basically to take names.
Though she’s no friend to Abramoff, the host agreed when she asked for an invitation. “Tucker likes controversy and to mix it up,” she said. Sloan’s assessment of the guest list: Lots of journalists (many from Carlson’s Daily Caller). No prominent lobbyists or lawmakers in the room.
Abramoff told us Carlson drew up the list. After all the scandal, does he still have friends? Absolutely, he told us. During his 185 weeks in prison, he had visitors every weekend. “150 people made the trek to see me.” Others sent books and letters.
“Some of the politicos got lost, of course, ” he said. “But people surprised me by how gracious they were.”
He said he wrote “Capitol Punishment” — decrying an irresistible culture of corruption enabled by a revolving door between the Hill and K Street — in 28 days. No big plans for post-prison life, he said, beyond promoting the book and its message. “I try to take it one day at a time.”
We asked Carlson: Who are these guests?
“Oh, you know, right-thinking people taking a break from their judgments to show support for a guy who’s been through a lot,” he said. Carlson said he’s not close pals with Abramoff, but decided to host because he was “annoyed by the judgments. And I think he’s a good guy.”
“I don’t really trust people who haven’t been humiliated in public,” he added. “It’s good for your soul to fail.”
Read earlier: Investigating Abramoff — special report