Jack Abramoff: Lobbyists are smarter than Congress

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

Disgraced super-lobbyist and now former convict Jack Abramoff said Congress has failed to reform lobbying in the years since his trial.  What's more, he adds in an upcoming "60 Minutes" interview, even if Congress did manage to enact lobbying reforms with some teeth, lobbyists would still outwit Washington's lawmakers, for the simple reason that they're smarter.

In the CBS News interview scheduled to air this Sunday, Abramoff was asked if he'd still be able to carry on his graft-laden business model in today's Washington. The former Washington high roller, convicted five years ago on charges of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe legislators,  said that "the system hasn't been cleaned up at all."

"There's an arrogance on the part of lobbyists . . . that no matter what they come up with, we're smarter than they are and we'll overcome it. We'll just find another way through," Abramoff said.

Abramoff upended Washington in 2006 when a wide-ranging investigation into his corrupt activities dragged down multiple lobbyists, members of Congress, Hill staff and business leaders. The Abramoff investigation led to charges against 20 figures, including Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney and several officials serving then-president George W. Bush.

Abramoff was released from prison in 2010. He's been making the media rounds now  to promote his new book, Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America's Most Notorious Lobbyist.

Abramoff told CBS that he believes most congressional reforms are "faux" changes that merely tweak existing rules. He cited rules distinguishing a seated meal from a meal eaten while standing, and a lunch versus a meal designated as a "fundraising" lunch as typical semantic examples.

"The people who make the reforms are the people in the system," he said.

The complete interview will air Sunday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. ET.

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