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The Man Who Bought Washington

Time, January 8, 2006:
From deep inside the Republican elite, Jack Abramoff brought new excesses to the lobbying game. Who is he, and how did he get away with it for so long?

There were two qualities that Jack Abramoff looked for in a prospective lobbying client: naivete and a willingness to part with a lot of money. In early 2001 he found both in an obscure Indian tribe called the Louisiana Coushattas. Thanks to the humming casino the tribe had erected on farmland between New Orleans and Houston, a band that had subsisted in part on pine-needle basket weaving was doling out stipends of $40,000 a year to every one of its 800-plus men, women and children. But the Coushattas were also $30 million in debt and worried that renewal of their gambling compact would be blocked by hostile local authorities"and that their casino business would be eaten away by others looking to get a piece of the action. So tribal leaders were eager to hear from the handsome, dandily dressed visitor who had flown in from Washington with his partner on a private jet, shared some of their fried chicken in the council hall, then waited for them to turn off the tape recorder that they used for official business.


Only one lawmaker - "House Administration Committee chairman Bob Ney of Ohio, identified as "Representative #1" - "is mentioned in the Abramoff indictments as having provided "official acts and influence" in exchange for gifts, travel, meals and campaign contributions.