The notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, convicted on federal corruption charges, has literally written the book on Washington corruption. Titled “Capitol Punishment,” it reportedly details how Abramoff, who initially saw lobbyists as “guys in the $2,000 suits who sucked the lifeblood out of our nation,” became one of those guys himself.
As Politico reports, the book also includes some suggestions on how to clean up the mess:
In the 3½ years he spent at Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., Abramoff says he paced the track at the medium security prison day after day, “consumed” by the problem of how government can be cleaned up.
One of the conclusions he draws is to entirely eliminate any campaign contributions by lobbyists, those bidding for federal contracts and anyone else who stands to benefit financially from public funds.
Lobbyists should not only be banned from making campaign donations, but they should also not be allowed to give gifts, he argues.
“Instead of limiting the amount of money a lobbyist may spend on wining and dining congressional members and staff, eliminate it entirely,” says Abramoff, himself guilty of once having lavished contributions, meals, event tickets, travel, golf and jobs on federal officials. “No finger food, no snacks, no hot dogs. Nothing.”
The ex-lobbyist also proposes eliminating the “lure of post-public service lobbying employment,” suggesting anyone who served in Congress or as a congressional aide should be “barred for life” from lobbying the government.
“That may seem harsh — and it is,” he says, but nonetheless adds, “If you choose public service, choose it to serve the public, not your bank account. When you’re done serving, go home. Get a real job.”
Sounds like a plan to me.
– Jay Bookman