60 Minutes ran a piece this past Sunday evening that we believe every American should watch, and watch again. The segment is called Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist’s playbook. Leslie Stahl interviews Mr. Abramoff about how he bought members of Congress, lobbied for casinos for American Indian tribes, as well as the methods he used. It will make you outraged. We’ll just leave you with Abramson’s go-to in-the-bag tactic: The offering of a high-paying job:
But the “best way” to get a congressional office to do his bidding – he says – was to offer a staffer a job that could triple his salary. “When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him or her at some point, “You know, when you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.” Now the moment I said that to them or any of our staff said that to ’em, that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna do. And not only that, they’re gonna think of things we can’t think of to do.”
Why do we feature this story in our morning note? We have written about lobbyists in our industry’s midst with you in earlier notes:
– Like this one from July 2011: HFT Lobby: Waaaaaaaah
– Like this one also from July 2011: HFT Image-improvement Campaign
– Like this one from August 2010: Bachus Hensarling Lobbying Letter on Flash Order Types
And who can forget this chart:
It is bad enough that folks who are not traders are making rules governing our capital markets. It is bad enough that Congressmen like Hensarling and Bachus write letters that are foolish and display shocking ignorance of terms like Flash Orders. However, it is abhorrently shameful that they are being bought in the manner Abramson describes in the 60 Minutes piece.
And if you think that our congressmen are for sale on small issues like the building of American Indian casinos, can you imagine how they are for sale on issues of financial regulation and reform, where Wall Street-esque money is involved?