Moyers on America
Capitol Crimes     Is God Green?     The Net at Risk

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Abramoff, Inc.

The fallout from the Jack Abramoff scandal continues. On September 15, 2006, Representative Bob Ney of Ohio agreed to plead guilty to federal corruption charges. As THE NEW YORK TIMES put it "Representative Bob Ney of Ohio admitted Friday that he had effectively put his office up for sale to corrupt Washington lobbyists and a foreign businessman in exchange for illegal gifts that included lavish overseas trips, the use of skyboxes at sports arenas in the Washington area and thousands of dollars worth of gambling chips from London casinos." It was Ney's ties to Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in January to conspiring to corrupt public officials, that brought him under scrutiny.

Abramoff came under intense public scrutiny through hearings in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in late September 2004. Those hearings laid out allegations of exorbitant fees, back-door deals and improper influencing of tribal elections. Abramoff invoked his Fifth Amendment right to silence throughout the hearings. It's now clear that Abramoff and his allies engaged in numerous questionable practices.

The Abramoff trail also leads to the Marianas, a US territory in the Pacific that Congress exempted from the U.S. minimum wage and immigration laws. The islands are home to Chinese-owned factories, where low-wage workers were imported from China and the Philippines and forced into slave labor conditions, living in squalid shacks behind barbed wire, to produce "Made in the USA" goods. As pressure built in the mid-1990s for a bill to impose U.S. laws on the islands, Abramoff was pitching his client-the government of the Marianas-as a regulation-free paradise and taking lawmakers, including Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), there on luxury junkets. "Capitol Crimes" lays out how Abramoff's influence with DeLay kept reform legislation from ever being debated on the floor of the House. Former Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK), who sponsored legislation after seeing the appalling working conditions in the Marianas first hand, asks: "How could we have, in the United States, working conditions like this under the U.S. flag?"

Read the Pulitzer Prize winning investigation by the WASHINGTON POST on the Abramoff Scandal. Find out more about the Marianas in the Citizens Class.

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