After all these years writing about him here at The BRAD BLOG, it was fascinating, to say the least, to finally try and get some direct answers from the nation's most notorious former GOP lobbyist, Jack Abramoff.
Now that he's completed three and half years in the federal penitentiary; after pleading guilty in 2006 to charges of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion; cooperating with federal prosecutors to help net some 20 other convictions or guilty pleas from former Bush Administration officials, one member of Congress and a number of other lobbyists and congressional aides; becoming an anti-corruption blogger; and writing a book (Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America's Most Notorious Lobbyist) about it all to help pay off some $44 million in court-ordered restitution to his victims, Abramoff joined me for a very lively, and at times feisty interview today on KPFK/Pacifica Radio's The BradCast.
Topics in the live, 30 minute interview include:
- Abramoff's take on the lack of morality at the heart of his crimes (he agrees to the failing, but seemingly only in part.)
- His belief that details of his story have been misreported (such as his attempt to take out life insurance policies on the lives of tribal elders to help cover the lobbying debts of tribes he represented and/or mis-represented.)
- His response to allegations of forced abortions and sex slavery in the sweatshops of his clients, the Northern Marianas Island (he denies knowledge of it having happened, and believes the claims were politically motivated.)
- What disgraced former and alleged election fraudster Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) was doing on Abramoff's lobbyist junket to play golf in St. Andrews, Scotland ("He was not supposed to be on that trip...he may have done something for us, but I can't remember what it was," claims Jack.)
- Whether he has done enough to tell the public the criminal truth about his former friends, colleagues, and highly placed elected officials who were the recipient of his bribes in the Bush Administration and the U.S. Congress, and whether he needs to do so before the lobbying reforms he claims to seek can ever come to pass.
I am only sorry we didn't have more time, as I had so much more to ask about, and there were several topics I would have liked to have drilled down into much more detail in hopes of holding feet to fire. But he had another interview commitment at the bottom of the hour, I had promised in advance to get him off air in time to make it, and he committed (yes, it's all on tape, Jack!) to come back and continue the discussion in the future. I'll look forward to holding him to that.
After he left, for the second part of the hour, we continued with listener phone calls, and their take on whether Abramoff's purported conversion from infamous criminal to hopeful reformer can or should be trusted, or whether this is just the latest "con" by "Casino Jack". The caller responses were very interesting, and I'll welcome yours as well, in comments below...
Download MP3 or listen online below (whole show, appx 58 mins.)...