Jack Abramoff, whose spectacular fall from grace has been well documented, was sent from his Maryland prison to a halfway house in Baltimore, according to Politico. Abramoff is scheduled to be released on December 4. His term, which started in 2008, was for 18 months.
According to CNN, Abramoff views himself as a “broken man”:
“I’ve fallen into an abyss,” he said. “My name is the butt of a joke, the source of a laugh and the title of a scandal … I hope this horrible nightmare ends at some point.”
Abramoff back in the news serves as a reminder of the importance of compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the law. Lobbyists serve the interests that they are hired to serve – and that is not a bad thing. But stepping over the line by offering bribes and kick-back schemes is not only illegal, unethical, and wrong, but damaging to reputation (yours, your firm’s, and your clients’).
As I attend all of the LCP sessions put on by the American League of Lobbyists, a theme that is drilled into every session – whether it’s Online Advocacy or Budget & Appropriations – is the vital importance of reputation and compliance with ethics rules. It’s a well-rehearsed cliche that DC is a small town, but it’s true. All you have is your reputation – and if you lose that, you’re toast.
Tell the truth – to clients and to lawmakers and staffers. Don’t sugarcoat the level of opposition that measures you’re lobbying on will elicit. Don’t manufacture support where it doesn’t exist. Under-promise and over-perform. Follow the law. Check your compliance measures. And it never hurts to take a step back and reevaluate your clients, your lobbying practice, and why you do what you do.