Jack Abramoff, notorious in Indian country for having bilked tribes out of millions of dollars, is out of prison and trying to resuscitate his image, with the media’s help.
“All I want is for people not to see me as this cartoon monster,” he told The New York Times and others at a private screening of his recent 60 Minutes appearance.
It may be hard for Indians to think of him as anything but, given that, as the Times pointed out, he has been mandated to return more than $40 million to the tribes he was convicted of swindling. (He denies that’s what it was.)
Like the thief who becomes an anti-theft consultant, Abramoff is looking to shore up the very loopholes he took advantage of as a lobbyist during the 2000s.
“There is no doubt that because of his infamy, Mr. Abramoff garnered a clinician’s understanding of the illnesses of K Street and, like any good doctor, he has written prescriptions,” The New York Times says in its Sunday November 13 edition. “In his book, he lays out proposals for banning political contributions from anyone doing business with the government and for closing the revolving door between Congress and lobbying firms.”
His book, Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist, comes out November 14. Among other contentions, Abramoff takes issue with Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for the team’s nickname.
On 60 Minutes as in the book (whose publisher, WND Books, does not have a phone number listed at its Washington D.C. headquarters and ignored Indian Country Today Media Network’s e-mailed requests for a review copy), Abramoff simultaneously both assumes and dodges responsibility for his deeds, putting as much blame on the context in which he operated as on his own behavior.
“I was so far into it that I couldn’t figure out where right and wrong was,” he told 60 Minutes. “I believed that I was among the top moral people in the business. I was totally blinded by what was going on.”