POLITICS

Jack Abramoff: Supreme Court Justices 'Just Don't Get' How Money Influences Politics

04/17/2014 05:29 pm ET | Updated Apr 18, 2014

Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff disagrees with the Supreme Court's April 2 ruling on campaign finance limits, which knocked down the overall limits on what a donor can give to all federal candidates, political parties and PACs combined.

"I don’t believe the [Supreme Court] justices understand the connection between political money and corruption," he told HuffPost Live's Josh Zepps. "It seems that none of them were politicians and none of them were elected officials, so maybe they just don’t get it. To think that the conveying of money is not going to create a corrupt relationship, I think is naive at best."

Speaking as a former lobbyist who knows the tricks of the trade when it comes to swaying a politician in his favor, Abramoff conceded, "The legislative effort that needs to ensue ... is to say: if you're a lobbyist or a special interest, you can't give or you can only give a de minimis amount. I don't think any other approach is going to work, at least through this court, and I'm not certain anything else will work legislatively either."

Abramoff was eventually convicted and sent to prison for his work as a lobbyist, yet he noted that "99 percent" of what he did was legal. Looking back at his lobbyist days, he highlighted ways to get around the current reforms. "If I wanted to give a meal to a congressman right now, I couldn't buy them a meal, but if I declared the meal as a fundraiser, I could in fact give them a meal and then hand them $5,000 as a check," he said. "That, to Congress, is a way to reform the system. I mean it's hilarious in a certain respect, but it's quite not funny in terms of the future for the country."

Urging the Supreme Court justices to reconsider their recent ruling, Abramoff said, "They've got to recognize that when a politician gets money in any amount from somebody who wants something back, that itself is bribery. That itself is corruption. They would never put up with it for themselves. They would never allow somebody who had a case in front of them to give them a campaign contribution or buy them dinner. Why in the world are they allowing it for politicians?"

Watch Jack Abramoff's full HuffPost Live interview below:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described the Supreme Court's April 2 ruling as striking down the limits on campaign donations to an individual candidate. In fact, it struck down limits on aggregate contributions.

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