Arresting Developments | Sojourners

Arresting Developments

Setting a high moral tone for the coming year, elected officials have extended the traditional Christmas spirit by spontaneously contributing thousands of dollars to charity. Admittedly, most of the money was from confessed criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but this should not detract from the fact that members of Congress wanted to send a powerful message of charity to the American people, many of whom might one day serve on their juries.

Abramoff was first to get things started when he returned from a Christmas season spent a-wassailing (an Old English phrase that means “meeting with my lawyers”) and announced that his New Year’s resolution is to fully cooperate with federal prosecutors in their probe of bribery and influence peddling on Capitol Hill. In pleading guilty to numerous felony counts, he left many members of Congress trembling with, I’m guessing, admiration. Anyway, they were trembling.

Abramoff voluntarily appeared in court after his lawyers patiently explained that his career was similar to—but not nearly as pleasant as—toast.

Thus, Abramoff stood before a judge, wearing the best suit Native American casino money can buy, and pleaded for leniency. (Note: Since one of the charges against him is under-reporting income on his tax forms, he will no doubt be declaring the cost of that suit at, say, $6 million or so, if he can just find the receipt. Unfortunately, Abramoff also forgot to write off some of his other legitimate purchases, such as the House of Representatives.)

Among the charges to which Abramoff admitted guilt are tax evasion, corruption, bribery, and, most seriously, giving the word “scoundrel” a bad name.

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Sojourners Magazine March 2006
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