Jack Abramoff hinted Monday that he knows of still more skeletons that are buried on Capitol Hill, but he’s not saying where.
The disgraced lobbyist said he wouldn’t want to make anyone else go through the experience that he and his family suffered after he was imprisoned for three and a half years in one of the biggest political corruption scandals in modern times. “I can’t be the agent of causing someone to go to prison,” he said during an appearance at the Washington offices of Public Citizen, a nonprofit government watchdog group.
“Prison was horrible,” he said.
His appearance was part of a months-long barnstorming tour to promote his recently released memoir, “Capitol Punishment,” along with his story of personal redemption and his newfound view of what he now calls a culture of “legalized bribery” in Washington.
As part of his public rehabilitation, he has made hundreds of appearances since November on TV and radio shows, he is on the paid speaking tour, he has a Facebook game application, there is talk of a reality TV show, and he is trying to get back into the movie production business. (One of his past production credits, before his lobbying career took off, was the 1988 Dolph Lundgren thriller “Red Scorpion.”) A portion of his earnings is to go toward a $44 million court-ordered restitution fund.
But there is apparently a limit to what he will say publicly.
Mr. Abramoff cooperated extensively with the F.B.I. as part of political corruption investigations that ultimately led to guilty pleas and convictions against more than 20 Congressional staff members and others linked to Mr. Abramoff.
As he talked Monday of the many “goodies” he had bestowed on politicians, the promises of lobbying jobs he had made to Capitol Hill staffers, and the Congressional offices he was able to “buy” and “control,” he hinted that there were others in Washington who benefited from his favor but who were not implicated in the federal investigations.
That piqued the interest Monday of groups like Public Citizen and the Sunlight Foundation. While a number of these groups have formed an odd allegiance of sorts with Mr. Abramoff on matters of political reform — like many of them, he is calling for tightening the rules on lobbying and campaign donations – several listeners from watchdog groups pressed him with some measure of annoyance to back up his claims and disclose more of what he knows publicly.
But Mr. Abramoff didn’t budge, citing his unwillingness to send anyone else to prison.
One listener wanted to know why the public should believe anything Mr. Abramoff has to say now after he admitted to years of political scheming and manipulation during his time as a high-flying Washington lobbyist representing Native American tribes, corporate interests and many other clients.
Mr. Abramoff was ready for the skepticism. In making his public pitch, he said that he was doing what he thought was right to bring “systemic reform” to Washington and “make recompense” for what he had done, and that he didn’t care whether people believed him or not.
“I’m not trying to become popular,” he said.