Abramoff scandal

Abramoff scandal,

in U.S. history, political corruption scandal resulting from criminal conduct on the part of lobbyist Jack Abramoff (1959–) and his associates. Abramoff was a Republican activist while attending Brandeis Univ. and, through his leadership role in the National College Republicans, became friendly with such future conservative activists as Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. Abramoff became a successful and powerful lobbyist after Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, widening his circle of powerful conservative Republican associates to include Tom DeLayDeLay, Tom
(Thomas Dale DeLay), 1947–, American politician, b. Laredo, Tex., grad. Univ. of Houston (B.S., 1970). A conservative Republican businessman, he entered politics (1979) as a Texas state legislator, serving until 1984, when he was first elected to the U.S.
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 and others, building a well-connected client base, and spending freely.

Although Abramoff and some of clients engaged in ethically and legally questionable activities, much of his and his associates' fraudulent activities involved Native American tribes grown wealthy from gambling. In 1995 he signed his first such client, the Mississippi Band of Choctaws; he quickly signed up several other tribes. Promising profitable links to the most powerful legislators in Congress and even to the White House, Abramoff collected huge commissions and directed the tribes to donate large sums to various politicians. He and his cronies pocketed enormous sums, channeled consulting contracts to associates, dealt in massive kickbacks, and treated chosen politicians to lavish entertainments. The tribes saw little if any benefit from their money; in one case, Abramoff worked behind the scenes to close a tribal casino in order to win millions in fees from the tribe.

Investigative newspaper reports finally brought Abramoff's activities to public attention. Caught (2000) defrauding lenders in his purchase of a fleet of gambling boats, he stood trial in 2006. He pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe public officials, and was sentenced to nearly six years in prison. Largely as a result of the scandal, Representatives Tom DeLay and Robert Ney (R-Ohio) were disgraced, and Ney went to prison; a number of Abramoff's associates and White House and congressional aides were also convicted.

Bibliography

See Abramoff's Capitol Punishment (2011); studies by M. Continetti (2006) and P. H. Stone (2007).

References in periodicals archive ?
And Schmidt, along with two Post colleagues, recently won the Worth Bingham Prize for her reporting on the Jack Abramoff scandal.
Before the Abramoff scandal broke, Reed was riding so high that he was able to intimidate a potential primary opponent--state insurance commissioner John Oxendine--into withdrawing from the race, even though he led in the polls.
The Abramoff scandal didn't help either, with its manipulation of Christian Right leaders to support gambling interests and email messages referring to evangelicals as "wackos.
WASHINGTON -- Today, Michael Scanlon was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison for his role in the Abramoff scandal.
After a promising start toward curbing the lobbying abuses exposed by the Jack Abramoff scandal, Congress' enthusiasm for reform seems to be waning.
At this point, one of the few things moralists and libertarians seem to agree about is that they don't like Ralph Reed, whose role in the Jack Abramoff scandal managed to offend both tribes.
The Abramoff scandal has already produced one conviction and seven guilty pleas.
In the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal this year, the perception may be that lobbyists are greasing public officials and paying for extensive junkets to help influence legislation.
One notable casualty of the Abramoff scandal is former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, who lost his primary bid for the lieutenant governor's seat in Georgia in July after being linked to the disgraced former lobbyist.
After rejecting any suggestion that he had been harmed by the Abramoff scandal for months, Ney suddenly turned course Monday and quit his reelection race.
CONNECTED TO THE ABRAMOFF SCANDAL and under indictment for improper use of corporate funds in a scheme to cement Republican control over Congress, the powerful House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay resigned from office in April.
It's likely, though, that the Senate will have to revisit ethics reform later in the year, as the Abramoff scandal mounts, and elections approach.