|From:||Martin Kaminer <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Sent time:||Thursday, November 03, 2011 11:05:12 AM|
|Subject:||[september17discuss] How To End Political Corruption, By Jack Abramoff.|
Abramoff: How to end corruption
He ought to know.
Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff says in a new book that the 1,299 nights he spent in jail have opened his eyes about how to rid Washington of corruption.
Abramoff, who was convicted for his involvement in a massive corruption scheme in which he pleaded guilty to cheating Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees and bribing lawmakers and staffers with lavish gifts, writes that he had “an epiphany” in prison.
POLITICO obtained an advanced copy the autobiography, “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist,” set to be released on Nov. 7.
In the 3½ years he spent at Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., Abramoff says he paced the track at the medium security prison day after day, “consumed” by the problem of how government can be cleaned up.
One of the conclusions he draws is to entirely eliminate any campaign contributions by lobbyists, those bidding for federal contracts and anyone else who stands to benefit financially from public funds.
Lobbyists should not only be banned from making campaign donations, but they should also not be allowed to give gifts, he argues.
“Instead of limiting the amount of money a lobbyist may spend on wining and dining congressional members and staff, eliminate it entirely,” says Abramoff, himself guilty of once having lavished contributions, meals, event tickets, travel, golf and jobs on federal officials. “No finger food, no snacks, no hot dogs. Nothing.”
The ex-lobbyist also proposes eliminating the “lure of post-public service lobbying employment,” suggesting anyone who served in Congress or as a congressional aide should be “barred for life” from lobbying the government.
“That may seem harsh — and it is,” he says, but nonetheless adds, “If you choose public service, choose it to serve the public, not your bank account. When you’re done serving, go home. Get a real job.”
Other Washington reforms Abramoff suggests include eliminating “bringing home the bacon” — ending pork projects in members’ districts — and applying all federal laws enacted by Congress to Congress itself, which he argues is too often exempt from “a myriad of strictures they blithely place on all the rest of us.”
© 2011 POLITICO LLC
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