Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

The Jack Abramoff corporate lobbying scandal represents everything wrong about politics and Washington. The lobbyist symbolizes a culture of corruption and greed because he was able to influence policy by providing lawmakers with lavish trips and massive funding for their campaigns. It is time for the politicians to strengthen laws against corporate lobbying so it no longer influences policy.Jacob Abramoff, a 47-year-old wealthy businessman, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion on Jan. 6. If convicted, he could face a maximum of 30 years in prison.

The wealthy lobbyist has close connections to the GOP, especially to the former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Between 2001-2004, DeLay received $57,000 from Abramoff and his associates, according to an article released by the Associated Press on Jan. 3.

Abramoff also has connections to DeLay and the GOP because he was part of the K Street Project. The former House Majority Leader started the project, and it encouraged corporations and trade associations to hire more GOP-connected lobbyists. Shortly after Abramoff pleaded guilty, DeLay announced that he would not seek to regain his position as House Majority Leader. It also seems likely that more lawmakers will fall because of the scandal. To reduce his sentence and time in prison, Abramoff has agreed to cooperate with an investigation into the corruption happening in Washington because of lobbying. It is likely that the once powerful lobbyist will tell investigators which other lawmakers accepted gifts, cash and trips from lobbyists.

After DeLay announced that he would not seek to regain his post as House Majority Leader, Congressman Bob Ney, a Republican from Ohio, announced that he would step aside as chairman of the House Administration Committee because of the lobbying investigation.

Other prominent politicians have donated funds they received from Abramoff to charities after the lobbyist pleaded guilty. The president donated $6,000 in funds received from Ambramoff to the American Heart Association in January. However, the lobbyist donated $100,000 to the Bush campaign in 2004, according to a report in the Associated Press on Jan. 5.

Other prominent politicians, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, have also donated money they received from Abramoff to charities. Politicians are trying to drop the lobbyist’s contributions as soon as possible, especially as the investigation widens.

The kind of money that Abramoff gave to lawmakers is worrisome. By providing lavish trips, golf outings and massive chunks of cash to politicians, Abramoff was able to influence policy. The lobbyist spearheaded a movement of greed in Washington. Because of the Abramoff scandal, lawmakers in Washington should no longer allow lobbyists to control policy. Members of the Senate and House should pass new legislation immediately and make it more difficult for lobbyists to influence politicians with cash, golf outings or other gifts. The culture of greed and corruption occurring in Washington must end.

Brian Fanelli is a senior majoring in comparative literature with minors in creative writing and journalism.

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