Money in Politics: Has Anything Changed Since the Days of Jack Abramoff?

After spending four years in a minimum security prison, the convicted Washington lobbyists Jack Abramoff is scheduled to go to a halfway house next month. The former B-movie filmmaker, anti-communist, college Republican became a powerful lobbyist in 1994. He had strong ties with then House majority leader Tom DeLay, Republican Karl Rove, anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, and the Christian Coalition’s former head Ralph Reed.

Press play to listen to Your Call with Rose Aguilar: “Money in Politics: Has Anything Changed Since the Days of Jack Abramoff?”:

Press play to listen to Your Call with Rose Aguilar: “Money in Politics: Has Anything Changed Since the Days of Jack Abramoff?”:

In 2006, Abramoff was convicted of fraud, corrupting public officials, and tax evasion. His case became the subject of a lengthy federal probe, which turned the spotlight on the cozy relationship between K Street lobbyists and Congress. By the end of 2009, 20 ex-lobbyists, congressional aides, Bush administration officials, and then Congressman Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio, had been charged or convicted.

The new documentary “Casino Jack” connects the dots and follows the money between Jack Abramoff, members of Congress, and conservative activists.

Has anything changed since the days of Jack Abramoff? According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, there are more than 13,000 lobbyists in DC; that’s almost 25 lobbyists per politician. They spent nearly $1 billion on lobbying during the first three months of this year. The organizations and corporations that spent the most include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($30,897,500), PG&E ($25,820,000), and General Electric, owner of MSNBC ($8,290,000).

Peter Stone has covered lobbying and money in politics for the National Journal since 1992. He’s written about Jack Abramoff since 2004. He’s author of “Casino Jack and the United States of Money,” and served as a consultant to the film by the same name.

Rose Aguilar is the host of Your Call, a daily call-in show on KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco and KUSP 88.9 FM in Santa Cruz. Follow her on Twitter.