The Crimes of Abramoff: Opposing a Postal Rate Increase

After reading the plea agreement and the “Factual Basis” for the plea agreement in attachment “A”, it looks like this is the second coming of Fitzmas.

One of the crimes was bribing “Staffer A” to oppose a postal rate increase.  What?  That’s a  crime?  I think it is a public service we should all be thankful for.  But why do we have to bribe staffers to oppose an increase in the fee imposed by a government chartered monopoly?  (Hey, Porkbusters, new strategy, take the staff of the Alaska delegation golfing!)

What is missed in the Abramoff hooplah is how the whole investigation…at
least the lobbying side of it…came about.

From the WaPo  12.29.05

“Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.), the ranking Democrat on the Indian Affairs
Committee, remembers first hearing “vague complaints” about Abramoff in June
2003 from three Democratic lobbyists. The tribes had traditionally supported
Democrats, but Abramoff was capturing them for Republicans, getting them to
boost their contributions and give two-thirds to his party.”

Only in D.C. will a group of lobbyists, lobby a Dem Senator to go after a
Republican lobbyist because Republican lobbyist convinced clients to
contribute to Republicans.  In D.C., getting a donor to flip sides is the
greatest of sins.

So, if Jack would have let the Dems have a fair share of the Indian money flowing to political campaigns, the lobbyists wouldn’t have run to Dorgan, who also got some $90,000 in Abramoff related money, and Jack could have kept bilking the tribes.

What brought down Abramoff was his success.  He was getting better results
than most lobbyists and making a pile of money and sniping clients from
other firms.

And of course, getting the Indians to contribute to Republicans….on
K-Street, that is the unforgivable sin, for while most lobbying interests
are big business, their lobbyists tend to be former Democrat staffers, who
still want the Blue team to win.

My K-Street and politics education came the old fashioned way.  I saw
Liberal Democrat lobbyists stear money to candidates who consistently voted
against their clients interests.  I saw a lobbyist from a Pharmaceutical
company direct the company make a max contribution to a candidate who wanted
to crack down on the Pharmaceutical Industry’s profits and require more
stringent safety standards.

The Pharm company didn’t know what was going on.  But their lobbyist, a
part-time gay rights activist, was actually playing the marriage issue with
his company’s money.

Big businesses are waking up to what has been happening to them–the lobbyists have been ripping them off.

I also learned an unwritten rule in lobbying–don’t be too good, then everyone will have to work harder and produce results.

If you are too good, the other lobbyists will turn on you.  Remember, most
lobbyists are long removed from being a middling staffer.  Few of them come
from the campaign side and to them it is a big machine.  The ones from the
campaign side, at least Republicans, rarely end up on K-Street.  They are too
philosophically oriented, too driven to win and not urbane enough for those
whose father could buy them an internship to start moving up the D.C. ladder.  There are very few winning campaign managers running around D.C. when compared to those who come up  through the company.

For those who came in through the staff side, D.C. is a company town and
they just want to keep the money flowing and pay the mortgage and help the
party they came up through.

Abramoff broke the rules.  He cut off a source of Democrat money, got
results and stole clients.

All of which led some Dem lobbyists to complain to a Dem Senator who took Abramoff related money.

That is how messed up the place is and why I stayed on the campaign side and eventually got out of it all.

Did Abramoff break the law…at least in the parts he plead guilty to.  But
outside of SunCruz, what he did was what happens every day in D.C. and state
capitals around the nation.  Abramoff original sin was being too good,
getting to big of results and being to brash about it–and of course,
cutting Dem candidates off from the Indian Gaming campaign contribution


17 Responses to “The Crimes of Abramoff: Opposing a Postal Rate Increase”

  1. Willy Says:

    Duh, a porkbusters junket! Why didn’t we think of that sooner!

  2. Addy Says:

    Abramoff is sleaze, but what makes him so special that he should be prosecuted.

    There is probably more of this than we normally see.

  3. Addy Says:


  4. Chapomatic » Playing Poker On K Street Says:

    […] The interesting thing about this article, to me, is the anthropology involved. (h/t Insta) I also learned an unwritten rule in lobbying–don’t be too good, then everyone will have to work harder and produce results. […]

  5. Poshboy Says:

    Nicely stated, especially about the dual lobbying that goes on all the time. Meeting with a staffer is no big deal; it’s staying on message and just talking about what you are being paid for that gets difficult. It is so easy to also lobby on one’s own pet issues.

    Abramoff was just very good about using tools–trips, gifts, Signatures restuarant–to get his job done. But he got greedy and then careless–and then got caught.

    (I really liked Signature’s Tuesday half-price sushi special. Hope the new owners continue that tradition…)

    PB, Washington, DC

  6. Richard Stefan Says:

    Abramoff didn’t plead guilt because he was a successful or because he took money and accounts away from Democratic lobbyists. He pled because broke the law including:

    1. Forged bank documents to make it look like he had deposited $23 million in a bank account when he never did.

    2. Directed Indian tribes to give money to a PR firm that was sending Abramoff kickbacks and hid that fact from his clients.

    3. May have ordered a hit on Max Boulis his now former business partner.

    4. Set up phoney charities to launder money to pay for trips for Congressmen. The Capital Athletic Foundation never gave any money to charitable causes and instead spent it on beach houses, private jets and employed a life gaurd.

    5. Allegedly bribed a Congressman to use the House floor & Congressional record to bad mouth Max Boulis forcing Boulis to sell to Abramoff and Kidan.

    6. Set up a school to launder money to the Lapin brothers and left kids out on street when the school ran out of money.

    This is not normal behavior for a lobbyist on eitherf the aisle. Those are the clearly illegal thingshe did. There are many other downright sleezy things he did they may be crimes as well. I suggest you answer these charges before making allegations that Abramoff is being attacked for solely political reasons related to his effectiveness.

    Anyone with a conscience working in politics for the past 20 years has known Abramoff was a sleeze. Go look at the circumstances from which he got kicked out of the College Republicans.

  7. ApocCity Says:

    Abramoff and Lobbying

    An interesting discussion of the whole lobbying situation…
    And what is K-Street?

  8. Different River Says:

    Lobbying for Dummies

    Some of my best friends are liberals — and one of them just sent me an e-mail with this little taunt:

    i hear there is a lobbist position available for the
    rebublican party… and don’t forget to bring your
    checkbook when you apply


  9. DWPittelli Says:

    Richard Stefan, I agree that Abramoff’s crimes are real and serious, and would be prosecuted in any jurisdiction, but with the likely exception of the badmouthing of Max Boulis, these are not crimes related to the bribing of Congress.

    Also, since the bribing of Congress charges are primarily going to be “he said,” “he said” situations where guilt or innocence depends on whether there was an explicit, but almost certainly verbal, agreement to a quid pro quo, we will never know the truth of the matter. It would, at any rate, be outrageous to convict a Congressment based primarily on testimony obtained by plea-bargain.

  10. Richard Stefan Says:

    The bribery charges extend beyond the comments in the Congressional Recrord. There’s the issue of bribery related to the cell phone contracts for the House and the attempts to circumvent the law and hide the no-bid contracts. Then there’s the government procurement chief Abramoff is accused of bribery. In addition there’s the use of phony charities to give travel to Members of Congress. To say you’re flying a private jet to the UK to play golf for a “charity trip” is crooked, shady AND illegal. The list is quite long and Abramoff is not the only on doing this stuff, he’s just the only one who got caught.

    Newt Gingrich calls the Abramoff scandal the “tip of the iceberg.” His thoughts are well worth reading:

    Rush Limbaugh called this the “A-Bomb.” There’s real criminal charges. The “K-Street Project” is named after the street in DC on which most lobbyists have their offices. The K Street project’s purpose was to fill lobbying positions with only Republicans. Once you start turing over those rocks you’re going to find a lot more corruption.

    Don’t read too much into Ambramoff’s plea agreement. They don’t need to list all the charges. The prosecutors goal is to get the next guy to cop a plean. My guess is Tony Rudy or one of the staffers on the inside will plea next and then even more chips will fall into place. They’ll keep working their way down line until they get to the big fish like DeLay, Santorum & Grover Norquist. The list is quite big. The House in 06 may already be lost and the chance to put this back in the box is long gone. Everyone is now in CYA mode and prosecutors love that.

  11. Openmind Says:

    Yes, Gingrich calls it a scandal and that it is the tip of the iceberg. But he quickly points out that Abramoff is a SYMPTOM of the Liberal-Democratic Welfare State. Democrats are acting like this is unusual behavior and they never participate in any of these schemes.

    Didn’t a group doing fund raising for H Clinton just get slapped for illegal campaign activities? Where’s the media indignation and shouts of “culture of corruption.” The culture of corruption exists – it is Washington DC itself.

    Here’s what Gingrich says:

    “The questions of lobbying should be looked at. But looking only at lobbyists protects the heart of the current system of incumbency protection-big government spending and power-Washington insider domination of the country which as a system is much more dangerous than the Abramoff scandal alone. The Congressional earmarks for pork, the special powers of Senators to blackmail the Executive Branch, the special provisions written into an overly complex tax code late at night in hidden meetings are symptoms of this larger problem of which Abramoff is only the tip of the iceberg. Efforts to focus reforms only on lobbying are efforts that will fail to move beyond the symptoms and look at the entire disease of corrupt power which is slowly engulfing the national government.”

    There’s too much power in Washington because of the money they drain off of the businesses and the taxpayer and because the Federal Gov’t gets involved in what used to be private contracts, decisions and relationships. So of course scumbags migrate to DC and seek to manipulate things for themselves and their clients.

    John Flynn, the journalist (a self described left wing Democrat) black listed by everyone’s hero, FDR, wrote about this long ago and sadly, both his diagnosis and prognosis have proved to be correct. This is still a great country but both parties and the entire system is rotten to the core.

  12. Richard Stefan Says:

    I agree there’s too much power in government. The “Republican” leadership in the House can be to blame for that. They & the Bush Administration aren’t really Republicans, they’re southern democrats. Southern Democrats believe in two things: the supremacy of the Federal Government and socially conservative politics. They are not interested in reducing the size of the government nor are they interested in government for the people. Privatization is a code word for getting the money into their contractors buddies hands.

    -GOP Spending – President Bush beats LBJ in the overspedning category.

    -Department of Homeland Security – This was originally sold as “streamlining” government by reducing overlapping juristicitions. Remember they originally sold this as a way to REDUCE the size of government.
    -Bankruptcy Bill – This is a job killer and attack on small business. Go look at the Cato studies on homestead exemptions and the rates of starting new businesses. This bill killed small business to pay off the credit card companies.
    -Steel Tarrifs – This killed jobs by pushing up the cost of steel used in finished products. It ended up killing more jobs that saved not even counting indirect jobs lost.
    -Medicare Drug Bill – How much will this cost us? A drug exectutive described the market as a free market because they are “free to charge whatever they want.”

    The list goes on and on. Jack Abramoff is only the beginning of what’s wrong with Republicans today. Wake up folks your party has been hijacked!

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