Abramoff is an indictment on our lobbying system

One of Washington’s biggest ethics scandals in recent history deepened today with lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s decision to cooperate in the ongoing federal investigation into Congressional corruption. Dozens of members of Congress have been implicated in the investigation and could now find themselves in legal jeopardy.

“The extent of Jack Abramoff’s influence on our government is breathtaking,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “The fact that he was an unscrupulous criminal who managed to work his way deep into many of Capitol Hill’s most powerful offices is an indictment on our system as a whole.”

Abramoff’s testimony will shine a new light into the darker corners of our federal lobbying system. With little or no oversight for almost a decade, lobbying Congress has become a practice rife with abuses that routinely violate rules and regulations. As a result, we have an anything-goes culture today in Washington that has left the public with little confidence about whose interest elected officials are working for.

If Congress is serious about tackling the problems of corruption, it will acknowledge its significant failure to enforce its own rules for members of Congress and lobbyists, and make serious reforms.