11 thoughts on “Jack Abramoff and Tainted Tzedekah – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Very interesting post.

    And what does it say about the ethics of an “orthodox” Jew who lied to the Washington kosher authorities and hired a Jewish chef to serve up his speciality dish – South Carolina shrimp and grits in his fancy Washington restaurant “Signatures”?

    See Abramoff Restaurant Ties Murky in the New York Forward.

    I think it says he’s a hypocrite (and I don’t believe that he gave all his money away despite his recent protestations about being broke).

  2. Good posting. One thing, though, in Hebrew the negative commandments in Tena”kh ( thou shalt not…) start with “Lo” and not with “Al”. I suppose that if “Al” had been used, the translation would have been “Do not…”.

  3. i think one has to ask what the term “orthodox” really means here.

    being brought up an orthodox Jew (18 years of Jewish day school, 2 years studying in a yeshiva in israel, a year and a half at yeshiva university), an orthodox jew is unique in their commitment to the oral law, namely the Talmud, the Talmud has many things to say about theft and goes into much more detail than the general “lo tignov” mentioned in the old testament. along with the talmud, Orthodox Jews give creedance to many biblical commentaries, including Rashi, Tosafos, Maimonides, Nachmanides and others.

    So generally orthodox Jews are unique in their commitment to every minute detail of the law mentioned in the Talmud, which according to them is “halacha moshe misinai”, the oral law passed from moses himself.

    my point is that if abramoff claimed to be an Orthodox Jew, that means he claimed to abide strictly to the Talmud’s laws, his lies and thieveries, his very actions actions say that if he studied the talmud’s approach to stealing, he probably didn’t get it.

    at best i’d call him a “non-practicing Orthodox Jew”

  4. As someone who has known about the Abramoff case before anyone in the mainstream media ,and as well I know them personally, let me just make these points.

    1. IN NO WAY AM I saying what he did wasn’t wrong. However, people don’t realize that almost every lobbyist is doing illegal stuff. That is the whole point of hiring a lobbyist. Because they know the right people in Washington to talk to.

    2. People don’t realize that, while true, he and his partner took millions that weren’t theirs, they made so much more for their Indian tribes than they took.

  5. while true, he and his partner took millions that weren’t theirs, they made so much more for their Indian tribes than they took

    Now that’s a great new standard for the definition of a successful lobbyist. If you make more for your clients than you steal from them then you’re doing a good job. Now, if we could only get the legal system to recognize that standard then Jack might not’ve gone to jail.

  6. “while true , he and his partner took millions that weren’t theirs, they made so much more for their Indian tribes than they took”

    When I said that I was only addressing your post earlier about his tainted charity. In fact, I do believe he should be punished, although not as harshly as the government is talking about currenly.

    Look, this is how I look at the whole Abramoff case. Did Abramoff do stuff that was wrong? Sure. Do most lobbyist’s do illegal stuff? Your’e naive if you don’t think so. The only difference was that Abramoff did it on such a grand scale. He was THE top lobbyist.
    In my opinion, the whole idea of lobbying is bribery and they should do away with it.
    It basically allows the rich to hire the right people who have connections. People can’t honestly believe he’s the only corrupt lobbyist. I compare this case to a case where let’s say Abramoff is on the highway and driving and everyone is speeding including himself. But only he is stopped. That is what the lobbying business is like. Everyone is speeding

  7. Anonymous: I think we’re in agreement. All lobbyists are either corrupt or engage in activity that skirts the edge of legality. Abramoff was perhaps the most outrageous & flamboyant of a bad bunch. But the whole pt. of Abramoff is that if you’re willing to be the most brightly plumed peacock in the bunch then the G-men are going to start looking at you. Since he allowed his enormous ego to get the better of him in oh so many ways it seems only fitting that he should be slapped down authoritatively for it.

  8. He’s not the only one being prosecuted. Savafian will go to jail. Rudy may go to jail. Scanlon may go to jail. I’ve heard of other lobbying firms which have closed up shop after similar investigations. I don’t think he’s the only one being punished. He’s just the nail that stuck his head & got hammered down first of the bunch.

    But I do agree w. you that political finances & lobbying need to be drastically overhauled. Only neither the Repubs or Dems have the courage or stomach to do it. But the Repubs have the most to lose since they’re entrenched in power & hence are most standing in the way of reform I’m afraid.

  9. What I meant when I said that they aren’t going after anyone else is that all of the people you mentioned (Scanlon,Safavion,Rudy) are all guys connected to him. Not other lobbyist’s from a different case.
    Also, I haven’t heard about lobbying firms which have closed up shop after similar investigations, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

  10. The firm I was thinking of was the Alexander Strategy Group. But it too disbanded because of its close ties to Abramoff. However, another delightful demise involves Rep. Jerry Lewis’ favorite lobbying firm. Poor Jerry is in big trouble it appears for his misdeeds.

    I believe that lobbysists tied to Tom DeLay’s coattails (Rudy worked for both DeLay AND Abramoff & Buckham too worked for DeLay & did dirty deeds for Abramoff) will also get their legal comeuppance some time soon. That guy was/is as crooked as a mountain road & his hangers on/lobbyist pals had to have been just as crooked or moreso to keep up w. him.

    I think one thing you may be missing is that Abramoff has his tentacles into so many other lobbyists & Republican members of Congress. He’s not just a lobbyist like all other lobbyists. He’s an uber-lobbyist or in today’s terminology, a meta-lobbyist. All corrupt roads lead to him so to speak. That’s another reason why they lowered the boom on him.

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