Former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff will be a featured speaker at an ethics session for state lawmakers at the beginning of the 2012 General Assembly.
The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission invited Abramoff to lead a 90-minute session scheduled for January 4 on how his corrupt actions led to his rise in Washington and eventual imprisonment. In 2006, Abramoff, who has been called the most “notorious and crooked lobbyist” in modern times, began a three and a half year prison sentence after pleading guilty to tax evasion, fraud and corrupting public officials.
Since then, Abramoff has been a symbol of political corruption and a pariah for many public officials. But state ethics commission chairman George Troutman says Abramoff’s visit will give lawmakers an inside look at how corruption works and what to avoid.
“What better to have than somebody that’s been there that can address the problems from having been in the ring with these problems. And that’s why we choose him,” he says.
Recently, Abramoff has been on tour where he discusses the trademarks in Washington lobbying, unethical conduct and violations of federal law. Observers have said the memoir is aimed at exposing the underbelly of corrupt politics, which was a motivation for the state commission to invite the controversial ex-lobbyist.
“If you believe what he says, which I do certainly at this point in time, he believes that some change is needed and basically that the corruption in our government both at the lower level up to Washington, D.C. needs to be changed,” says Troutman. “I think he’s probably one of the best people currently in the United States to address these issues again, having been right in the middle of it.”
The commission is paying Abramoff $5,000 fee, plus expenses to speak during the session’s opening week.