Lobbyist Jack Abramoff
Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, an almost larger-than-life figure
in Washington, D.C. circles, is at the center of a Justice Department
investigation into possible corruption by members of Congress
and their aides.
On Jan. 3, 2006, Abramoff pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy,
mail fraud and tax evasion related to defrauding four Native American
tribes out of millions of dollars, and agreed to cooperate with
federal prosecutors. He admitted to providing numerous gifts,
including campaign contributions, free meals and a golf trip to
Scotland, to a congressman identified in press reports as Ohio
Republican Bob Ney.
According to Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, "Abramoff
had a congressman insert statements in the Congressional Record,
had a congressman endorse a wireless telephone contract for the
House of Representatives, had a congressman agree to seek passage
of legislation to help Abramoff's clients. Government officials
and government action are not for sale."
Abramoff's plea agreement spared him a maximum jail term of 30
years. Instead he faces up to 11 years in prison and must pay
$26.7 million in restitution, Fisher said.
"Words can never express my sorrow and profound regret,"
he told U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, quoted
CNN. "Nor can they express my sadness and regret for my conduct.
... I ask for forgiveness and redemption from (the) Almighty."
Abramoff was born in Atlantic City, N.J. on Feb. 28, 1958. He
graduated from Brandeis University in 1981 and the Georgetown
University Law Center. He chaired the College Republican National
Committee from 1981-85. He also was involved in anti-communist
efforts as a member of Citizens for America.
Abramoff had a stint as a movie producer in Hollywood, and was
president of Regency Entertainment Group from 1986-94.
He became a lobbyist for Greenberg Traurig in 2001 and remained
there until 2004.
Abramoff was closely associated with the K Street Project, initiated
by his reported friend and former House majority leader, Tom DeLay,
R-Texas. The program was designed to push corporations and trade
associations to hire more Republican lobbyists.