One of the charities I support just sent me an email with the subject line, “Shel — Jack Abramoff needs you.”
I opened the e-mail, expecting to a sarcastic, ironic letter about how big money has infiltrated politics and sending money would help keep the likes of Abramoff—the deeply discredited lobbyist friend of GW Bush who served time for some of his activities—out of the political process. (He served less than two years of a four-year sentence.)
Silly me! this is what I got instead:
Last week, we launched our brand-new, hard-hitting anti-corruption news site, [name deleted to NOT give them publicity]. Former “superlobbyist” Jack Abramoff is a regular contributor, along with some of the best investigators in the country. Together they’re focused on exposing politicians and lobbyists who are auctioning off our democracy and our future. Just like the CIA hires ex-hackers to protect its mainframe, Jack will be using his insider knowledge to hold the worst offenders to account.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned—but this left a really bad taste in my mouth. I quite frankly don’t trust Abramoff to do a decent job here, and I don’t like the idea of hiring someone for a regular gig who was working steadily to undermine the political process for his own personal benefit, and even pitted some of his clients against each other without their knowledge.
Yes, he’s got “insider”knowledge about corruption. But what assurances do we have that he’s no longer corrupt?
Mind you, I’m willing, even eager, to be proven wrong. I’d love to see a year of Abramoff’s “hard-hitting reporting,” and read up on whether his personal lifestyle shows true reform. Certainly we’ve seen true turnarounds from the likes of John (Confessions of an Economic Hitman) Perkins, Philip (Inside the Company: CIA Diary) and John (In Search of Enemies) Stockwell. Will Abramoff rise to the occasion?