Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist's playbook

Crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff explains how he asserted his influence in Congress for years, and how such corruption continues today

Abramoff: We would certainly try to make the activity legal, if we could. At times we didn't care.

But the "best way" to get a congressional office to do his bidding - he says - was to offer a staffer a job that could triple his salary.

Abramoff: When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him or her at some point, "You know, when you're done working on the Hill, we'd very much like you to consider coming to work for us." Now the moment I said that to them or any of our staff said that to 'em, that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they're gonna do. And not only that, they're gonna think of things we can't think of to do.

Neil Volz: Jack Abramoff could sweet talk a dog off a meat truck, that's how persuasive he was.

Neil Volz was one of the staffers Abramoff was talking about. He was chief of staff to Congressman Bob Ney, who as chairman of the House Administration Committee had considerable power to dispense favors. Abramoff targeted Volz and offered him a job.

Stahl: You're the chief of staff of a powerful congressman. And Jack owns you and you haven't even left working for the congressman.

Volz: I have the distinct memory of, you know, negotiating with Jack at a hockey game. So we're, you know, just a few rows back. The crowd's goin' crazy. And Jack and I are havin' a business conversation. And, you know, I'm-- I'm wrestlin' with how much I think I should get paid. And then five minutes later we're-- he's askin' me questions about some clients of his.

Stahl: When you look back was that the corrupting moment?

Volz: I think we were guilty of engaging in a corrupt relationship. So there were several corrupting moments. There isn't just one moment. There were many.

Abramoff: At the end of the day most of the people that I encountered who worked on Capitol Hill wanted to come work on K Street, wanted to be lobbyists.

Stahl: You're telling me this, the genius of figuring out you could own the office by offering a job to the chief of staff, say. I'm having two reactions. One is brilliant. And the other is I'm sick to my stomach.

Abramoff: Right. Evil. Yeah. Terrible.

Stahl: 'Cause it's hurting our country.

Abramoff: Shameful. Absolutely. It's the worst thing that could happen. All parts of the system.

Stahl: I'm mad at you.

Abramoff: I was mad at me--

Stahl: I'm not kidding. I'm not kidding.

Abramoff: Look I did things and I was involved in the system I should not have been in. I'm ashamed of the fact I was there, the very reason why now I'm speaking about it. And now I'm trying to do something, in recompense, is the fact that I thought it was-- it was wrong of me to do it.