Jack Abramoff

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Jack Abramoff, former Republican "superlobbyist" and now a convicted and sentenced felon cooperating with federal prosecutors, is the central figure in a web of corruption within the U.S. Republican Party, which will likely be the most far-reaching Washington corruption scandal of recent decades. In January 2006, Abramoff reached a plea agreement with Federal prosecutors, in which he pled guilty to a number of felonies and agreed to cooperate with the authorities. It is likely that this cooperation will lead to prosecution of numerous Republican lawmakers, staffers, lobbyists, and operatives. Abramoff's principal activity was the collection of tens of millions extorted from Indian tribal gambling operations. Much of the money was used to buy influence from Washington Republican figures, but a considerable amount was used for self-enrichment or personal pet projects.

The disgraced long-time Washington insider whom Congressman Tom DeLay once referred to as one of his "closest and dearest friends," collected $100,000+ for President George W. Bush's re-election campaign, "earning premier status within the campaign" as a Bush Pioneer, as well as raised funds for GOP congressional candidates. [1]

As a Republican Party lobbyist, Abramoff was Senior Director of Government Affairs for the Greenberg Traurig law and lobbying firm from January 2001 to March 2004, when he was fired and became a consultant at the Cassidy & Associates lobbying shop. Abramoff was "brought into Cassidy" by Gregg Hartley, a former top aide to House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Missouri)," according to Roll Call's Brody Mullins [1][2]

Abramoff cut his ties with Cassidy & Associates on or around July 8, 2004, "to form his own company, Middle Gate Ventures," to do "such business opportunities as energy projects, real estate development and motion picture production -- no lobbying," according to the Washington Post's Judy Sarasohn. In March 2004, Abramoff had "signed an exclusive contract with Cassidy for him to steer lobbying business to the company."

Abramoff was College Republican National Committee (CRNC) National Chairman from 1981-85, as well as a Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. [3]

Sentence

Abramoff and his partner Adam Kidan were sentenced March 29, 2006, by Judge Paul Huck of the Federal District Court in Miami, Florida, to 70 months in federal prison, placed on three years' probation, and "ordered to pay a total of $21.7 million in restitution" for their role in a fraud scheme involving the "$147.5 million purchase of the shipping line, SunCruz Casinos, in 2000." [4]

Abramoff initially remained free "so that he [could] continue to aid in the investigations that swirl around him and his former lobbying practice." [5]

He reported to a federal prison in West Virginia on November 15, 2006 to begin serving his sentence. Prosecutors had requested he be held there rather than at a similar facility in Pennsylvania in order that they would have easier access to him during their continuing investigation into his associates. [6]

On September 4th, 2008, Abramoff was sentenced to four years in prison for corruption. Though Abramoff faced a maximum possible sentence of eleven years, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle showed leniency because of his assistance with the FBI investigation. The sentence is in addition the prison sentence he received in 2006. Abramoff could still appeal the decision.[2]

Guilty Plea Deals

On January 4, 2006, a day after he entered guilty pleas to "defrauding Indian tribal clients of millions of dollars, conspiring to bribe members of Congress and evading taxes" before a federal judge in Washington, DC, Abramoff pleaded guilty in federal court in Miami before U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck to "conspiracy and wire fraud stemming from his 2000 purchase" of SunCruz Casinos, a fleet of gambling boats in Florida. [7][8]

See Current Articles & Commentary

Follow the Money: Dumping $$$ ... and Waiting
Abramoff's plea deals cleared "the way for his cooperation with federal prosecutors in bringing charges against former business and political associates" and is sending "seismic waves across the political landscape," as predicted by the Associated Press's Tom Raum.

Almost immediately following Abramoff's second guilty plea in Miami on January 4, 2005, President Bush, Representative Tom DeLay, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Representative Roy Blunt and "numerous lawmakers hastily jettisoned campaign donations linked" to Abramoff while Republican Party officials "pondered the impact of a spreading scandal on their 2006 election prospects," the Associated Press's David Espo wrote.

The Wall Street Journal reported November 25, 2005, that the Justice Department's "investigation into possible influence-peddling ... [was] examining his dealings with four lawmakers, more than a dozen current and former congressional aides and two former Bush administration officials, lawyers and others involved in the case. ... [Namely] House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio), Rep. John Doolittle (R., Calif.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R., Mont.), according to several people close to the investigation." Ney agreed to plead guilty to at least one criminal charge related to the scandal and a false expense report for a golf trip to Scotland bankrolled by Abramoff. [9]

"Five of the former aides worked for Mr. DeLay, including" Tony Rudy, Ed Buckham and Susan B. Hirschmann. "The three were top aides to Mr. DeLay and are now Washington lobbyists." [10]

See:

Client "Company A" is Tyco

Tyco International Ltd., "whose former CEO" L. Dennis Kozlowski "became a symbol of corporate corruption, acknowledged" January 5, 2006, that "it is the Jack Abramoff client referred to as 'Company A' in court documents describing the lobbyist's scheme to funnel millions of dollars in lobbying fees to himself," the Associated Press's Sharon Theimer reported.

Scandals

Abramoff's Lobbyist Work

Following the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994, Abramoff moved back to Washington, DC. He worked from 1994-2001 as a lobbyist for Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, a Washington branch of the Seattle-based Preston Gates and Ellis law firm. In January 2001, he joined the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, whose website described him as "directly involved in the Republican party and political conservative movement leadership structures and is one of the leading fund raisers for the party and its congressional candidates." This page biography has since been removed from their website.

In July 2005, Timothy E. Flanigan "acknowledged that as general counsel at Tyco International, a corporation that became embroiled in scandal before his arrival in December 2002, he had personally supervised Mr. Abramoff's lobbying work for Tyco in 2003." [13] "Abramoff listed the president's office among the agencies his team of lobbyists sought to influence on behalf of Tyco during Flanigan's tenure at the Bermuda-based conglomerate." [14]


Political Contributions: "Bush Pioneer"

In 1997, Abramoff gave $500 to the campaign of Republican Congressman Doc Hastings. The New York Times reported that Abramoff made an additional $500 donation to Hastings and that the Seattle law firm Abramoff worked for, Preston, Gates & Ellis, donated $13,000 to Hastings' campaign.

"The access of Abramoff and his team to the [Bush] administration came as the lobbyist was establishing himself as a GOP fundraiser," the Associated Press reported May 6, 2005.

"Abramoff and his wife each gave $5,000 to Bush's 2000 recount fund and the maximum $1,000 to his 2000 campaign. By mid-2003, Abramoff had raised at least $100,000 for Bush's re-election campaign, becoming one of Bush's famed 'pioneers.'
"Money also flowed from the Marianas to Bush's re-election campaign: It took in at least $36,000 from island donors, much of it from members of the Tan family, whose clothing factories were a routine stop for lawmakers and their aides visiting the islands on Abramoff-organized trips.
"Two Tan family companies gave $25,000 each to the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2002 elections. Greenberg Traurig, too, was a big GOP giver. Its donations included $20,000 to the Republican National Committee for the 2000 elections and $25,000 each to the GOP's House and Senate fundraising committees in 2000 and again in 2002."

Exemplfying the "political decadence of late-stage conservatism"

"Well-connected Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff came into the news lately when it turned out he had collected more than $9 million in fees from various Indian tribes during the past two years, although tribal interests faced little political opposition at that time. (He was dumped by his firm, Greenberg Traurig, which cited 'personal transactions and related conduct which are unacceptable to the firm.' Abramoff responded with a statement noting that Washington lobbying 'is different from other areas in the practice of law.' Indeed.) But while Abramoff is far from Washington's first corrupt lobbyist, he's among a troika of right-wing operatives who exemplify a more recent trend: the political decadence of late-stage conservatism." --Washington Monthly, April 2004.

Master of Sleaze

"Only a genius like Abramoff could make money lobbying against an Indian tribe's casino and then turn around and make money defending that tribe against himself. Only a giant like Abramoff would have the guts to use one tribe's casino money to finance a Focus on the Family crusade against gambling in order to shut down a rival tribe's casino.

"Only an artist like Abramoff could suggest to a tribe that it pay him by taking out life insurance policies on its eldest members. Then when the elders dropped off they could funnel the insurance money through a private school and into his pockets.

"This is sleaze of a high order. And yet according to reports in The Washington Post and elsewhere, Abramoff accomplished it all," wrote David Brooks in the March 22, 2005, New York Times.

Abramoff's Quotes

  • "Can you smell money?!?!?!" Jack Abramoff wrote. --Quoted May 1, 2005, New York Times. [15]
  • "This is really high on the priority list of tribal concerns. ... This is a cash cow in many circumstances, and tribes are concerned about protection of tribal assets." [16]

Related SourceWatch Resources

Books

  • Jack Abramoff mentioned in Nina J. Easton's Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Crusade [Simon & Schuster 2000 ISBN 0684838990].


References

  1. Michael Kranish Bush, DeLay give back Abramoff funds, Boston.com (The Boston Globe), January 5, 2006
  2. Neil A. Lewis, "U.S. lobbyist sentenced to 4 years", The New York Times, September 5, 2008

External resources

Websites

Articles & Commentary

See lengthy lists of articles related to Jack Abramoff's corruption and related scandals.


2008

Wikipedia also has an article on Jack Abramoff. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.