Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » Convicted felon to speak at NCSL event, as ALEC mole returns to hype his campaign
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Convicted felon to speak at NCSL event, as ALEC mole returns to hype his campaign

Thursday, Jul 26, 2012

* The National Conference of State Legislatures is holding its big annual meeting in Chicago next month. One of the featured speakers on the group’s home page is none other than convicted felon and former bigtime DC lobbyist Jack Abramoff. From the NCSL website

Thursday, 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. at MPW W183b, Level 1

Term limits, no revolving door, no gifts. These reforms are touted by America’s best-known lobbyist/felon, Jack Abramoff. He will defend his ideas in front of a panel of experienced legislators who will talk about ethics reforms in their states and challenge Abramoff on what makes sense.

Apparently Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan weren’t available to speak to the NCSL gathering because they’re still in prison.

* Abramoff spent over three years in federal prison after being convicted of mail fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion. He’s been promoting his new book “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist.” He was on “60 Minutes” not long ago and said that one reform he’d like to see is a complete prohibition on congressional staff and congresscritters from ever becoming lobbyists.

* Abramoff addressed the Kentucky legislature earlier this year and outlined some reforms he’d like to see

* There is a connection between money and politics. Any gift, no matter how small, is a form of bribery.

* Public officials should not be allowed to accept any gifts, including campaign contributions, from lobbyists or their clients or anyone seeking government awards.

* Politicians are human and humans are grateful to people who do nice things for them. This is how lobbyists gain access.

* Terms limits are necessary for lawmakers and their aides to curb a culture of arrogance.

* There should be a lifetime ban on public officials becoming lobbyists–no revolving door.

* Everything about gambling and gaming is political. Stay away from it, he warns. “Beware of the power of money in that industry.”
And remember that a public servant works for the public, not for lobbyists.

* But as former Washington Post reporter R. Jeffrey Smith wrote, Abramoff remains defiant about his own actions in his new book

When it comes to his own role, Abramoff leaves out some embarrassing details, making a reader suspect that there is still more to tell. And his sensible yet improbable prescriptions — which Abramoff says occurred to him while he was doing time at a minimum-security federal prison in Cumberland — are undercut by the pride with which he recounts his lobbying victories. We are left with an odd mixture of candid revelation, defiant celebration and score-settling, all stuck to a postscript of avowed remorse. […]

He dismisses his numerous critics by claiming that they were engaged in “a bloodbath of slander” or bent on the destruction of his clients. He slams The Washington Post in particular for its “vitriolic attacks.” He said the paper was “thrilled to have another angle of attack” when it published a 2004 article by me about Abramoff’s diversion of funds from an avowed sports charity to pet political causes, a short-lived religious school for his kids and an overseas golf trip. […]

For all of its interesting play-by-play — marred in part by numbing accounts of his golf games with clients — the book skims the surface of Abramoff’s psyche. One explanation for his devotion to such hard-edged lobbying is that a habitual rule-breaker will always gravitate toward a profession where ethical norms are few and enforcement is largely missing. But there are hints of other compulsions, including a desire to outperform lobbyists with more cultivated lifestyles. (He writes with relish that his clients and tactics left the partners at Preston Gates squirming “at their wine and brie parties.”)

Even after a few years in prison, Abramoff appears unconvinced that he should be subject to the same rules as others. At one point behind bars, he writes, he violated a rule against circumventing the prison mail system by passing a note to visitors, in hopes of getting a Torah scroll from a local rabbi that he could use to organize a communal reading in prison. Abramoff writes in frustration that the “rabbi ratted me out” and says it was “a badge of honor” to endure another month in prison for having tried to obtain the scroll. He decries the prison’s punishment as “harassment.”

One of the book’s unintended themes is thus that redemption is particularly elusive for those who think they can lobby to get everything they want.

Maybe this wasn’t the best panel choice. We’ll see. Are you going to the conference? What are you planning to do?

* Meanwhile, the ALEC “mole” is back

[Wednesday] is the first day of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) annual meeting. State legislators from around the country will be attending, as will representatives from corporations looking to pitch model legislation.

There will also be spies.

Activists from several progressive groups will sneak into the Salt Lake City conference, (at least, they’ll try), in hopes of capturing some of ALEC’s model legislation. They will be especially motivated now that mass outrage over Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, an ALEC-modeled statute which many presumed would form the basis of George Zimmerman’s legal defense for shooting Trayvon Martin, has lofted ALEC’s profile.

But long before ALEC watching became its own cottage industry, there was Mark Pocan—a Wisconsin state assemblyman who spied on ALEC for more than a decade and frustrated its attempts to advance policy in the Badger State. […]

But the conferences are of dwindling use to a known quantity like Pocan. While his fellow ALEC-affiliated never tried to obstruct him, ALEC’s staff and its sponsors are a different matter. Corporate representatives ensure that he is never invited to the private dinners and sessions where they do some of their choicest lobbying. “That’s where they really wine and dine you,” he said. At last summer’s summit, “I was probably the loneliest guy in New Orleans.”

The only private event Pocan ever made it to was a cigar party. Sponsored by several corporations, it literally consisted of prim servers proffering cigars to legislators on silver platters. Within five minutes of Pocan’s getting there, an ALEC staffer hurried up to him, asked for his invitation, and, after he produced it, brusquely asked him to leave.

* Background

More than a decade ago, Wisconsin state Rep. Mark Pocan began agitating to expose the American Legislative Exchange Council’s behind-the-scenes manipulation of the legislative process in Wisconsin and other states on behalf of multinational corporations. It was a lonely fight at first. Republicans were enthusiastic about ALEC and most Democrats did not have the courage to take on powerful corporations and the lobbying and campaign contribution networks they had developed.

But Pocan, a Madison Democrat who has represented the 78th Assembly District since 1998, persisted, attending ALEC meetings and writing groundbreaking exposes for The Progressive on how the right-wing group crafts “model legislation” that benefits the most powerful corporations in the world — while undermining protections for workers, consumers and the environment. When the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine developed the “ALEC Exposed” project to reveal the full extent of the secretive group’s manipulation of the legislative process, Pocan lent his experience and insight to the work of naming and shaming corporations that fund ALEC.

As a result, responsible corporations are fleeing ALEC’s membership rolls. Some 25 companies have announced they are no longer associated with ALEC — including, most recently, MillerCoors, Best Buy, CVS, Hewlett-Packard and John Deere & Co. They join Johnson & Johnson, Dell, Kraft, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Walmart and Mars. Four nonprofits, including the Gates Foundation, have also ended their involvement in ALEC activities or initiatives.

But Pocan is not satisfied just with the reduction in ALEC’s ranks. The legislator, who is one of several contenders for the open 2nd District congressional seat, is promoting an “ALEC Accountability Act,” which would require the shadowy group to register as a lobbyist in Wisconsin and report the funding sources for the “scholarships” it provides conservative legislators.

* Pocan is running for Congress, and he’s hyping his visit to the media. From a press release…

**Press Advisory**
Pocan At 2nd Day of ALEC Conference
National Coalition Shedding Light on Illegal, Non-Registered Lobby Group

SALT LAKE CITY – State Representative Mark Pocan will attend his second day at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, July 26th. ALEC wines and dines state legislators nationwide in an attempt to lobby for model corporate-sponsored, special interest-inspired legislation. Over the past few years, public awareness of troubling legislation promoted by ALEC has caused 28 corporations and over 50 legislators to leave the organization. In 2012, Pocan introduced the ALEC Accountability Act, which would require ALEC to register as a lobbying organization and own up to its illegal practices.

Is anybody out there at the ALEC conference this week?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

16 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 9:36 am:

    ===Apparently Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan weren’t available to speak to the NCSL gathering because they’re still in prison.===

    Gee, thanks Rich! Why open comments, who is going to top THAT one?

    Line of the Day. Well Done.


  2. - Quinn T. Sential - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 9:54 am:

    Given the recent temporary repreive I think Bill Cellini is still available if they would like to expand the presentation to a panel discussion.

    Nothing like local knowledge, and I believe he would qualify as a Subject Matter Expert.


  3. - dang - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 10:04 am:

    Abramoff, while really a sketchy person, does highlight some reforms that would be helpful. Agree with most of them.


  4. - Regular Reader - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 10:22 am:

    I stopped by ALEC this week for a bit. Bellock is being recognized, and I think there’s only 6-7 Illinois lawmakers here.


  5. - langhorne - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    i am retired, so not going to ncsl. too expensive to go on my own. there should be a good number of staff there, since they are needed as volunteers.

    abramoff is a good choice as a presenter. his ideas should get the discussion going. no one is as zealous as a convert (also trying to sell books)


  6. - Shore - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 10:50 am:

    Abramoff was disgraced and making kosher pizza for $10 an hour in suburban dc until his latest book tour. This is a guy with no other prospects in life blowing stuff out his end because it’s more fun than spending friday nights asking 15 year olds if you want it extra large and with any sides. If you believe stuff he has to say, you’re nuts.

    Alec has been around a long time doing what they’re doing without much national outrage-which had generally seemed to find most other groups like that. Did they get new leadership prompting this higher visibility or was this just something that blew up?


  7. - Crime Fighter - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 11:06 am:

    With major ship-jumping by policy makers to right-wing corporate cronyism here in Il, its nice to see an occasional pro-democracy convert like flawed Abramoff.


  8. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 11:17 am:

    Interesting lineup (pun intended) for the Abramoff presentation.

    Term limits, no revolving door, no gifts. These reforms are touted by America’s best-known lobbyist/felon, Jack Abramoff. He will defend his ideas in front of a panel of experienced legislators who will talk about ethics reforms in their states and challenge Abramoff on what makes sense.

    Moderator: Gene Rose, Marmillion + Co., Colorado
    Speaker: Jack Abramoff, former lobbyist, author and radio host
    Panelists: Representative Rosie M. Berger, Wyoming
    Steve Rauschenberger, former Illinois legislator, Rauschenberger Partners, LLC, Illinois
    Senate President David L. Williams, Kentucky


  9. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 11:17 am:

    Abramoff is just giving goo-goos the boilerplate they want to hear to flog his book and collect some lecture fees.

    Prosecuting venal fixers is a good way to cut down on corruption. He’s just bitter that a lot of his pals (Ralph Reed, Dick Armey) are still playing the game for big money.


  10. - amalia - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 11:18 am:

    Abramoff mentioned with Torah scroll somehow seems so wrong.


  11. - Aaron - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 12:20 pm:

    If anyone hasn’t seen Alex Gibney’s documentary on the Jack Abramoff scandal, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, I’d urge you to check it out. It’s a well made expose on Abramoff’s web of “lobbying.”


  12. - NIref - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 12:42 pm:

    Moral of the Abramoff story: Bribe politicians with other peoples money, vacation at club Fed, write a book, do lot’s of pressers, and profit.

    Good to know there is hope for Ryan and Blago after they get out.


  13. - Thoughts... - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 12:48 pm:

    Abramoff is an interesting creature. I saw that 60 minutes piece and he came off as more than a little disingenuous, at least to me. It’s just a little too close to the redemption narrative and he just doesn’t seem to play the role well.

    As for his suggestions, I don’t really agree with term limits. I lived in a state with them and the legislature there is a joke. New Speaker and Senate Pres. literally every two years, a woeful lack of institutional knowledge, and it’s filled with folks who either bought seats or are using it as a stepping stone.

    No Congressman or staff should ever be allowed to lobby? In just about every professional setting, one’s position is predicated on one’s experience. Denying these folks the right to use their professional experience entirely doesn’t seem quite right. Further, it would deny many (ok, not the members) the opportunity to advance themselves financially. To me, it doesn’t seem fair that choosing public service for any period of time should consign you to the (relatively) lower income brackets for the rest of your life.

    That said, I’m fine with gift bans, contribution limits (for all, including corporations) and copious amounts of sunshine.


  14. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Jul 26, 12 @ 4:11 pm:

    Really enjoyed the documentary (occasionally streaming on Netflix) called “Casino Jack and the United States of Money.”

    That film really laid bare the gross abuses of public trust involved in the DC GOP’s K Street Project, of which Abramoff was just one piece.

    What I didn’t understand after watching that movie is why if Abramoff is a pariah that people like Ralph Reed and Grover Norquists are treated as movement conservatives in good standing. Because that movie really made it seem that they were up to their eyeballs in Abramoff’s misdeeds with Ralph Reed using right-wing Christian groups to mobilize opposition to gambling necessitating the hiring of lobbyists like Abramoff to represent Indian tribes wanting to get into gambling and Grover Norquist helped launder the money that was being raked in via these lobbyist contracts through his political non-profit organizations.


  15. - amalia - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 8:06 am:

    have not seen the doc, but your point about only one pariah is a very good one.


  16. - wordslinger - Friday, Jul 27, 12 @ 9:11 am:

    Hisgirlfriday, I think that’s why Abramoff is so honked. He did the time while his pals are still making money and getting invites to nice parties.

    The sinister, vulgar types like Reed and Norquist still draw a lot of water.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Madigan tries again to schedule legislative leaders meeting
* Madigan says he will postpone workers' comp vote at Durkin's request
* Universities threatened with loss of accreditation
* Question of the day
* Your overtime session roundup
* Pritzker in the mailboxes
* A junk bond rating won't just hurt the state
* "Best case scenario" is a big August crisis
* The Tribune editorial board rides to the rescue
* *** LIVE *** Special session coverage
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............
<


Loading


* Senate President Calls Special Session a "Polit.....
* Illinois could be 1st state with 'junk' credit .....
* Forget the south suburban airport - Chicago Tri.....
* Illinois could be 1st state with 'junk' credit .....
* From the start, Rauner has done nothing to help.....


* Quincy mother resilient after drug abuse, HIV diagnosis
* EXCHANGE: Henry County round barn badly needs new roof
* 4 more children reported injured at Indiana water park
* Bicyclist killed after falling onto Chicago train tracks
* Black Hawk College president retiring at end of 2017
* Illinois could be 1st state with 'junk' credit due to budget
* Man spared the death penalty for murder dies in prison at 74
* Athens Clarke County Library gets grant for solar panels
* Tick-borne illnesses growing among Illinois residents
* Tick-borne illnesses growing among Illinois residents

* House looks at school funding, but not budget
* Illinois could be 1st state with 'junk' credit due to budget
* Tourists like the Statehouse, not the gridlock inside of it
* Mendoza: By August, there won't be enough tax money to cover expenses
* Mendoza issues warning while leaders argue
* People like the building, not the gridlock
* Rauner threatens to reject 911 funding bill over fee increases
* Former Edgar appointee tapped as new DCFS director
* Rauner signs repeat gun offender plan into law
* Illinois House leaders meet, but no action on a budget

* Like our roundup? Share it around.
* As McDonald's pulls up stakes, what's next for Oak Brook campus?
* Some of the shine has come off Morningstar
* Keep your tax breaks. Give us workforce training.
* Why hasn't this bank found a buyer?


* Person dies after Hammond crash
* Man shot while driving in Little Village
* Man shot in Little Village
* Police: Man fatally shot while driving on South Side
* 38-year-old man seriously wounded in Near West Side shooting
* Woman killed in crash in Orland Park
* Chicago rapper Common has plenty to say in his inspiring Ravinia debut
* Fire officials: Chicago Police officer struck by vehicle in Park Manor
* Man, 38, wounded in West Side shooting
* Man charged with flashing gun during party in St. Charles


* 2 dead, 13 wounded, including 15-year-old boy in city shootings
* Elusive goal? State wants 90% of students proficient in reading, math by 2032
* Remembering Riverview Park, 50 years later
* 'Chicken lady' farms in Rogers Park, despite neighbors' gripes
* River North home with garage parking: $849,000
* What will it take to get a budget passed in Illinois?
* LINDA C. BLACK HOROSCOPES for 6/25/17
* Police officer, woman injured in South Side hit-and-run crash
* $208K grant aims to help Northwest Indiana residents get HIV test, treatment
* Trae Crowder and WellRED Comedy should be more than curiosities


» State Week: Special Session Begins
» When Will Illinois *Really* Run Out Of Money? Could Be August
» Prosecutors Seek To Uphold 'Making A Murderer' Confession
» Budget Impasse Makes Future Of Sojourn Shelter Unclear
» Bulls Trade Butler To Timberwolves, Go All In On Rebuild
» Illinois Experiments With High Schools Of The Future
» Senate Democrats Urge Republicans To Compromise On Budget Deal
» Cook County Democrats Hear From Gubernatorial Candidates
» $25,000 Reward Offered For Rare Clock Stolen In Chicago
» Obama Presidential Center Could Include Playground, Sledding


* Angie Muhs: Surprising takeaways from trip to national AP headquarters
* Bernard Schoenburg: Rauner talks of being happy, energized during impasse
* Statehouse Insider: Unity speech brought out the partisanship
* Our View: Illinois on the precipice of disaster of unknown proportions
* John Kelker: Community investments fund needs
* Hanson Family bridges past, present
* House looks at school funding, but not budget
* Illinois could be 1st state with 'junk' credit due to budget
* Tourists like the Statehouse, not the gridlock inside of it
* Mendoza: By August, there won't be enough tax money to cover expenses


* PFOP: Bloomington home to world champion singing mouse
* Staying the course: Ex-offender has plan to stay out of prison
* Komarraju: Kleinau Theatre is a hidden gem on SIU Carbondale campus
* In Normal, video gaming still on the rise
* Bloomington keeps top 10 slot in video gaming
* 5 years in, video gaming ringing up huge numbers
* Divorces
* Towns scramble to reschedule fireworks shows
* Roads report: East Main Street, Parkway Drive
* Editorial: Real problem with budget mess is no one is listening


* Overturned oil tanker explodes in Pakistan, killing 148
* Overturned oil tanker explodes in Pakistan, killing 129
* LAPD chief urges cadets to be ethical in wake of scandal
* LEADING OFF: Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium, Barreto pop
* Albanian vote in election seen as key to moving toward EU

* Fundraiser, protest set for Illinois GOP r...
* US Rep. Randy Hultgren accepting internshi...
* Northern Illinois Congressman Co-Sponsors ...
* Payments in the future will be sent like t...
* The importance of funding science research...
* Randy Hultgren: US should remain on UN cou...
* Rep. Randy Hultgren constituents decry sec...
* Hultgren pushes for job training, educatio...
* Rep. Randy Hultgren fields questions at Le...
* Hultgren backs Trump; suburban Democrats d...

* Most Americans think Trump tried to interf......
* Sunday TV news show guests listed - Indian......
* Guest lineups for Sunday's TV news shows -......

* Senators warn of IDOT project shutdown wit......

* Self-Regulation Protects The Wolves Of Wall Street
* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #158: Bulls To Bears: Hold My Beer
* Township businesses file class action lawsuit after skyrocketing property taxes
* Illinois Tea Party shows spark of life in face of another income tax hike
* When Transparency Really Means Tyranny
* Emoluments Lawsuits Are a Monumental Distraction
* Middle school graduation and a travel day.
* Homeless.
* Rep Batinick reports on special budget session
* Reps Skillicorn and Ives talk need for property tax assessment resolution


* Illinois Awarded Funds to Offer Advanced Training on Detecting Impaired Driving
* Illinois EPA Announces Upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
* IEMA Highlights Emergency Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs in May - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
* First Lady Launches Illinois Family Connects
* Governor and Lt. Governor Unveil 2016 Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices

  
* TouchArcade iOS Gaming Roundup: Sega Forever, Death Road to Canada, Hearthstone, and More
* Houzz raises a huge $400M round at a $4B valuation
* Relevnt launches a publisher-centric news app
* 5 burning questions Blue Apron’s IPO is about to answer
* Key Stanford Medical Researcher Joins Apple's Health Team
* Holding the OnePlus 5 high on your TechAltar? | #PNWeekly 258
* Canada rumored next on the list for 32GB iPhone 6

* Holland looks to get back on track vs. A's
* Sox Century: June 24, 1917
* Athletics 10, White Sox 2: Capacity crowd disappointed
* White Sox honor Buehrle, retire No. 56 jersey
* Shields K's 2,000, says starters have to improve
* White Sox honor Buehrle, retire No. 56 jersey
* Holland looks to get back on track vs. A's


Main Menu
Home
Illinois
YouTube
Pundit rankings
Obama
Subscriber Content
Durbin
Burris
Blagojevich Trial
Advertising
Updated Posts
Polls

Archives
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

Syndication

RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0
WordPress




Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller