Just got an advance copy of David Margolick's Vanity Fair interview with Jack Abramoff. It hits newsstands later this week. Some highlights:
How he operated:
"Most lobbyists meet with a committee chairman, staff, a few members. We'd meet with the whole leadership of the House and Senate, the entire committee on both sides, then create a roster of who might ideologically support the idea and get them in the war… We'd get people firing constantly on the decision-makers. And we'd outwork everyone in the media… Most Washington lobbyists are lazy, people of limits, people who move glacially slow. I felt my job was to go out there and save the world… I thought it was immoral to take someone's money and not win for them. And we basically didn't lose."
On Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), who received $150,000 in campaign contributions from Abramoff and associates:
"Every appropriation we wanted [from Burns' committee] we got. Our staffs were as close as they could be. They practically used Signatures as their cafeteria. I mean, it's a little difficult for him to run from that record."
Signatures is a D.C. restaurant that Abramoff owns. Burns took out TV ads in January, saying he was never influenced by Abramoff. He has returned the contributions.
There's more in the piece about Newt, about McCain, about Bush. I have to say my favorite line is when Abramoff mentions the Indian tribes he used to represent:
"The entire Indian country has come together in a big kumbaya of hatred for me. It just tears at my soul."
You gotta respect a guy who comes up with the line "kumbaya of hatred."