Abramoff: It’s easy to corrupt congressional staffers
Appearing on Current TV’s “The Young Turks” on Tuesday night, notorious former lobbyist and convicted criminal Jack Abramoff explained just how easy it is to corrupt staff members crucial to the daily operations of Congress.
“As soon as you speak to a chief of staff or a staff member up there and say, look, I’d like you to join me when you’re done with your government service, come on over after a couple of years,” Abramoff said. “From that minute on, that person is thinking about where she’s gonna go, or he’s gonna go, in two years. They’re not thinking about where they work now. And everything they do is going to be for the benefit of that lobbyist.”
A recent example of Abramoff’s principle in action: just this week, two senior Republican staffers who worked on the controversial Protect IP and Stop Online Piracy Acts accepted lobbying jobs with the National Music Publishers’ Association and the Motion Pictures Association of America, major advocates for both bills. Naturally, their new employers claimed it’s just a case of knowing the right people and having the right skills, but outsiders suspect there’s something more to it than just that.
Abramoff added that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, now running for the presidency, had engaged in lobbying for the government-sponsored mortgage bank Freddie Mac. Gingrich had claimed he accepted payments of $1.6 million from the bank for serving as a “historian” and adviser. It didn’t seem to help, as the bank later accepted more than $72 billion in taxpayer bailouts.
In truth, Abramoff said, “Newt and others… say they’re strategic advisers, they say they’re giving general world vision views to these people, but [lobbying] is exactly what they’re doing.”
This video is from Current TV’s “The Young Turks,” broadcast Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011.