Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 1, December 2011

Jack Abramoff, In New Book, Decries Endemic Corruption In Washington
www.nativenewsnetwork.com and www.huffingtonpost.com/

Condensed by Native Village

 

Jack Abramoff
 

 
Capitol Punishment by Jack Abramoff

Proceeds from Jack Abramoff's book have been court ordered to pay back American Indian tribes, His is yet another sordid chapter to a history of vast mistreatment of American Indians.

Washington D.C.- Former superlobbyist and ex-con Jack Abramoff describes himself as a creature of a corrupted system.
 

"I wasn't the only villain in Washington," he writes. Such conduct is "the way the system works."
 

Along with most Americans, the vast majority of American Indians consider Abramoff a crook. Abramoff was the high-priced former Washington lobbyist convicted of ripping off American Indian tribes of $45,000,000.  He charged outrageous fees to tribes that hired him as their lobbyist while his emails referred to tribal officials as monkeys.

 

After spending 3 1/2 years in a federal prison, Abramoff has written his side of the story in a new book,  "Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America's Most Notorious Lobbyist."

 

Abramoff describes how he and his team "lavished contributions, meals, event tickets, travel, golf and jobs on innumerable federal public officials with the expectation or understanding that they would take official actions on my behalf or on behalf of my clients."


Abramoff says the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians was the first tribe to hire him. Their were concerned about a
proposed 30% Unrelated Business Income Tax assessed on Indian tribal gaming revenues.

 

According to Abramoff, when Republicans took control of the US House of Representatives in 1994, several Republican Congressmen vowed not to raise taxes, Yet some had no problem inserting the Unrelated Business Income Tax into legislation. Many Congressmen felt Indians were making too much money off of gaming. This included Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

 

After being hired as the Choctaws' lobbyist, Abramoff and team worked hard to strike the proposed Unrelated Business Income Tax stricken from legislation. Had Abramoff stopped there, he would be a hero in Indian Country.
 

But he did not. He went on to get nine other tribes to sign on with his lobbying efforts and the rest is history.

Abramoff charged up to $150,000 per month to alter legislation that pitted tribes against each other in blocking casino development. He also lobbied to pressure federal agencies to select tribes for grants. In some cases, the final dollar value of grant awards were far less than what it cost to secure the funding.
 

"As a lobbyist, I thought it only natural and right that my clients should reward those members who saved them such substantial sums with generous contributions," he writes. "This quid pro quo became one of hallmarks of our lobbying efforts."

Abramoff points out that he was "not alone in this method" and that "it continues today, unabated by reform campaigns or public ire at the Congress."
 

The Tribes that Jack Abramoff Scammed
(Numbers gathered from various Internet Reports)
Pueblo of Santa Clara:
Paid $20,000
Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe:
Paid $3,500,000

Over $1,000,000 was diverted

Tigua Tribe of Texas:
Paid $4,200,000
 $3,700,000 was diverted
Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana:

Paid $30,500,000
$21,900,000 was diverted
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians:
Paid  $14,765,000
  $12,000,000 diverted.
Pueblo of Sandia
Paid $2,750,000
 $2,350,000 was diverted
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of California
Paid $7,195,000
Amount Diverted: Unknown
Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
$121,000
Amount Diverted: Unknown
Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana
$1,760,000
Amount Diverted: Unknown

 

In the book, Abramoff mocks the ethics reforms adopted by Congress in the wake of his downfall.
 

"Is corruption in Washington really ended by insisting congressmen eat their food with their fingers standing up, rather than seated with forks and spoons? Yet, this is the kind of reform which Congress proposes, passes, and then congratulates itself about," he writes.
 

Abramoff reserves his most scathing criticism for members of Congress. Those who never complained when he showered them with money and gifts were those "hung him out to dry".
 

Abramoff remained silent -- taking the Fifth -- when he testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in 2004. In his book, Abramhoff hints at what he might have said had he opened up.
 

"Most of these legislators had taken thousands of dollars from my clients and firms, and now they were sitting as impartial judges against me. Washington hypocrisy at its best," he writes. "Members swim in a swamp of corruption, and thrive in it, but they are able -- with a straight face no less -- to accuse others at will and sanctimoniously punish what they see as malfeasance."
 

To end the revolving door, Abramhoff says that government lobbyists and those who receive federal contracts or benefit from public funds should be prohibited from giving gifts and campaign to all to public officials.
 

"The lure of post-public service lobbying employment needs to be eliminated," he writes. So: "If you chose to serve in Congress or on a congressional staff, you should be barred for life from working for any company, organization, or association which lobbies the federal government. "

 

 

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