I present you now with a partial list of the current residents of the original site of the little green house at 1625 K street, now the Commonwealth Building: The National Petroleum Council, The George C. Marshall Institute, The Coalition For Employment Through Exports, AMS Consulting Group, The Environmental Literacy Council, National Foreign Trade Council, The Media Access Project, The American Association of Blacks in Energy, The Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology, The Heritage Preservation, Biotechnology Industry Organization, The Response Group, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, The Benton Foundation, The National Network for Woman's Employment, The National Organization on Disability, and The Hill, a conservative leaning daily newspaper reporting on events on Capital (or Jenkins) Hill.
“Almost any important Republican who ... says they didn't know me is almost certainly lying.”
On Monday, January 8, 2001, the still 42 year old Jack Abramoff joined the 1,800 lawyers working for the lobby/law fjrm of Greenberg Traurig. The firm boasted that their new Senior Director of Government Affairs had been “deeply involved in the Republican party and conservative movement leadership structures.” Once settled in, Abramoff assembled his “dream team” of lobbyists, including Shawn Vasell, previously an aide to Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mt), Tony Rudy, previously the Chief of Staff for Tom DeLay (R-Texas), Todd Boulanger, previously an aide to Senator Robert Smith (R-NH), Amy Berger, previously an aide to Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV), Padgett Wilson, previously an aide to both Paul Coverdell and Nathan Deal (both R-GA), and Kevin Ring, previously an aide to John Doolittle (R-CA) and John Ashcroft (R-MO). Tommy “The Cork” Corcorhan's pathway to fame and power by selling his experience in working for the people had become a four lane highway to wealth and power for “Team Abramoff”.
“If I read the articles about me, and I didn't know me, I would think I was Satan.”
Over the next two months members of Team Abramoff appeared in White House logs 200 times. Over that same time span Greenberg Traurig went from $1.7 million in billings to $8 million. Over the first three years of the first Bush administration, “Casino Jack” himself had 345 meetings with White House staffers, including ten face to face meetings with President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove. It was during this time that Jack also acquired the monikers of “The Mayor of Capital Hill” and “Super Lobbyist”.
“All of my political work is driven by philosophical interests, not by a desire to gain wealth.”
If you wanted Team Abramoff as your lobbyist, the fee was $500 an hour. Jack was paid by the Chitimacha Tribe and the Coushatta Tribe, both of Louisiana a total $1,820,000. The Hopi Indians paid him $60,000. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians paid him $1,040,000. The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe paid him $150,000. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands paid him $600,000. The Samoan Garment Manufacturers Association paid him $160,000. Primedia paid him $440,000. And Voor Huisen Project Management paid him $300,000. Omar Bongo, the President of Gabon, paid Jack $9 million for a meeting with President Bush. He was paid another $1.2 million to arrange a meeting between Bush and the Malaysian Prime Minister. And yet, still, for Jack – just as for Tommy Cocorhan, it was never enough.
“I have chatted with Ralph (Reed) and we need to get the funding moving on the effort in the 10 congressional districts, ... Please get me a check as soon as possible for $150,000 made payable to American Marketing Inc. This is the company Ralph is using.”
It was inevitable that someone like Jack Abramoff's would come to dominate this new fourth branch of American government – the lobbyists. He was an ignoramus about gourmet food or wine – in fact he did not drink at all. But he had a chameleon's talent for impersonations, and a quick broad sense of humor. Born Jewish, Casino Jack converted to orthodoxy. He carried his affinity for inflexible convictions into every aspect of his life – he was an absolutest in all things. His college roommate described Jack as always “driven to excess”. “He really did not have a malicious bone in his body. But if he sought something, he would not be deterred or impeded in his effort to acquire his goal.” (http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2005/12/18/jack-abramoffs-brandeis-roommate-remembers/ )
“Can you smell money?!?!?!”
I present to you now a partial list of the people convicted of corruption in “The Abramoff Scandals”; Jack's business partner Adam Kidan, Bob Ney (R-Ohio), David Safavian (White House staffer), Italia Federici, Lobbyists, Mark Zachares, aide to Don Young (R-Alaska), Michael Scanlon, lobbyist and former aide to Tom Delay (R-Texas), Neil Volz, lobbyist, Roger Stillwell, Interior Department, Steven Griles, Deputy Interior Secretary, Tony Rudy, lobbyist, William Heaton, aide to Bob Ney, and Thomas Hart, aide to Bob Ney.
They realize that spending millions to save billions is just good business.
The crimes of Jack Abramoff had been previously committed by the rich and powerful themselves, ala Mr. Colt, or facilitated by hosts such as Mr. Ward. They have gotten more skilled by following the career path of Tommy Corchoran. Almost half of all retiring members of Congress now see their government service as preparation for a profitable career as a lobbyist. And in the age of corporate America, they may not be mere facilitators, but ideologically proselytes, who are driven to bribe and seduce in search of a cultural holy grail. And since Casino Jack went to jail at the end of March 2006, the situation has only worsened. In 2009 alone, the Center for Responsive Politics records that $3.47 billion – BILLION – was spent on lobbying by the 30,000 registered lobbyists in Washington D.C.
“Only a genius like Abramoff could make money lobbying against an Indian tribe's casino and then turn around and make money defending that tribe against himself. Only a giant like Abramoff would have the guts to use one tribe's casino money to finance a "Focus on the Family" crusade against gambling in order to shut down a rival tribe's casino. Only an artist like Abramoff could suggest to a tribe that it pay him by taking out life insurance policies on its eldest members. Then when the elders dropped off they could funnel the insurance money through a private school and into his pockets.”
David Brooks New York Times March 22, 2005
Jack Abramoff was sentenced to 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $22 million in “restitution” to the American Indian tribes he had bilked. To his other clients, corporate, municipal and state governments, he was just the cost of doing business. He finished serving his sentence on December 13, 2010. And at 1625 K street, you can still find some 24,000 square feet of floor space available for rent at just $40 a square foot. The lobbying business on K Street is still green.
You can't beat somebody with nobody.
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