"…the system hasn’t been cleaned up at all" -Jack Abramoff

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These quotes from Abramoff that will air on 60 Minutes, obtained by Politico, speak for themselves.

“Congress passed new ethics reform laws soon after the stink began to rise from the biggest political corruption scandal in decades. But the man at the center of that scandal, ex-lobbyist and now ex-convict Jack Abramoff, says new rules don’t work, because lobbyists can always find ways around them. ‘We’re smarter than they are and we’ll overcome it,’ he tells Lesley Stahl in his first television interview …

“Though he says he now regrets using cash and gifts to buy influence in Congress – among the crimes that landed him in prison for over three years – could he still do the same thing today? … ‘Yeah… the system hasn’t been cleaned up at all,’ he tells Stahl. ‘There’s an arrogance on the part of lobbyists … that no matter what they come up with … we’ll just find another way through…. You can’t take a Congressman to lunch for 25 dollars and buy him a hamburger or steak … but you can take him to a fundraising lunch and not only buy him that steak, but give him $25,000 extra and call it a fundraiser … same acces … same interaction with that Congressman … So the people who make the reforms are the people in the system.’ …

“Whether it’s an expensive gift, a job, event tickets, vacations or straight cash, Abramoff calls it all bribery … ‘[I]t’s done every day … There were very few members [of Congress] … who didn’t at some level, participate in that.’ Abramoff tells Stahl the number-one weapon used to influence a member of Congress was the promise of a future, high-paying job to a member’s top staffers. ‘Now the moment I said that to them or any of our staff said that to them, that was it. We owned them,’ he says. ‘And what does that mean? Every request … of our clients, everything that we want, they’re going to do. Not only that, they’re going to think of things we can’t think of to do’ … Such tactics resulted in Abramoff’s lobbying firm holding sway in the offices of about 100 Congressional representatives, he says … ‘I would view that as a failure, because that leaves 335 offices that we didn’t have strong influence in.’”

Like Abramoff says, nothing has been done to truly clean up the system. There is a solution out there that would sever the ties between members of Congress and lobbyists and their big money sway: The Fair Elections Now Act (S. 750, H.R. 1404). Click here to learn more about Fair Elections.