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Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 1:06 p.m.

Former GOP lobbyist calls for change in Washington culture

by admin

Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff speaks to College Republicans Vice ChairmanChris Oman during an CRs event Tuesday. Lauryn King | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Silverio Ramirez

One of the nation’s most infamous lobbyists blamed trade practices for creating a political greed trap that promotes “legalized bribery.”

Jack Abramoff, who spent 42 months in prison on corruption charges related to lobbying, said the profession is still vulnerable to abuse by wealthy policy peddlers.

He said greater public attention to lobbying scandals, such as his own, did not improve the system.

Looking back, Abramoff said it was ignoring the “little lines in the sand” that landed him in the middle of the 2006 scandal, facing multiple corruption charges for swindling casinos owned by Indian tribes.

After multiple trials and a congressional hearing, Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion, and agreed to pay more than $40 million in retribution. He began his six-year prison sentence in 2006, and was released early in 2010.

Today, he said, lobbyists continue to employ tactics like generous personal gifts.

“When I took clients golfing, we would get on a plane and go golfing in Scotland,” Abramoff recalled.

While in Washington, the former lobbyist said he spent more than $1 million on tickets to every professional sport the District has to offer, often paying top dollar for private boxes and front-row seats.

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