March 15th, 2012
11:30 AM ET

Abramoff to Blagojevich: 'Keep your head down'

On the day former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich begins a 14-year prison sentence on a corruption conviction, he's getting some advice on life behind bars from someone who knows firsthand how hard it can be: Jack Abramoff.

Abramoff, a former Republican lobbyist, was the central figure in a corruption scandal that ultimately led to charges against numerous lobbyists and public officials. He served four years of a six-year sentence in federal prison.

In a poignant interview on CNN's "Starting Point," Abramoff offered a strategy to Blagojevich for surviving his incarceration. Watch the video to hear Abramoff's advice and reflections on his big regret the day he surrendered to authorities.

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Filed under: Crime • Jack Abramoff • Politics • Rod Blagojevich
soundoff (132 Responses)
  1. Outspoken

    14 years is just dumb...taxpayers are paying for a non-violent criminal to have group of G.E.D./trade school educated prison guards watch him? This guy should have received a sentence of probation, a large monetary penalty, and made to go on speaking tours and have the money donated towards that monetary penalty.

    But we would rather throw a guy in jail and wreck more lives.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Solibfiscon

      Ya that would teach him.....

      March 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Yes, it will serve as a lesson to other corrupt politicians. Just like the republican crook that they threw in jail a few years before, if you don'tr punish these thieves in suits, they will continue to steal. Blogo is an arrogant jerk and deserves what he got.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      What an imbecile.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Why do you not park in no parking zones? For some people, it's simply because there's a sign and so they comply. For others, it's the understanding that parking is prohibited in that area because if there's a fire, the fire trucks will need to have that area open to them (for example). But for others it's because they don't want to pay the fine.

      It's not about punishing Mr. Blagojevich. It's about setting an example for others. Corruption in high office is a horrible thing. It does terrible damage to the whole nation. We must give other officials who might contemplate any corruption something to think about.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obviously...

      you are not a fellow resident of Illinois getting screwed with the highest overall tax rate in the country while receiving less and less service from a grafted out state.

      Personally, I think this is the one service I might actually be getting in return for my money from the State of Illinois. The State Comptroller just needs to book an accrual for the incarceration costs of the next governor.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • zz

      No, I would rather have the Feds seize 100% of Blagojevich's assets, put him in gen pop, have the guards look the other way, and let prison justice be meted out.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • BLah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      Well stated!

      March 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sherri

      CNN did not post my prior comment, but what I said was that not all prison workers are GED/high school educated people. I worked in a men's prison and had a Bachelor's degree. Quit putting down prison workers. They do what many would not want to do. Risk their lives every day watching these people, some of whom are murderers and don't care if they live of die. Also, he broke a law, he needs to pay, especially since he still does not think he did anything wrong. And I wish the media had ignored his little press conference. He needs to learn that the sun does not revolve around him. We want him to go away.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • BLah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      Very good point!

      March 15, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cameron

    Just had an Idea while reading about all these White Collar Fortune 500 stealing from the working class living lavish lifestyles... These people are going to posh minimum security prisons.. I have a Better Idea!! Instead of sending them to prisons, I suggest Forcing them to work at the Minimum Wage level for their sentence.. (i.e. Fast Food, low wage jobs). They should really know what its like to live in Poverty which can be a unending prison sentence for poor families. Prison is too easy and we are Paying for them to be there.. I say PUT THEM TO WORK!!! Let them ONLY work in Low Wage jobs.. Let them suffer the way the rest of us do.. What Do YOU THINK???
    Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got 14 years in a Minimum Security Prison, It has all kinds of Nice things in there.. Put him to work for 14 years in Minimum wage.. I sure Politicians would say it is Cruel.. but Who Cares..

    March 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJCowboy

      But then they'll just be taking the job from someone who actually needs that job. Probably not the best plan

      March 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Solibfiscon

    I do not feel bad for Blago when the citizens put you in a position of power they do not expect you to bend rules and policies to benefit yourself. How would you feel to find your boss was cheating you out of money to stuff his own pockets, obvioulsy thats wrong. This man did not run a business he ran a damn State. Let him rot.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      He broke a huge trust. And he should pay a huge price.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TRH

    14 years was far to light a sentence.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Corky

      When rapists get 8 years?

      March 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • David in Cincinnati

      Corky, TRH didn't say anything about rapists. Why do you think TRH would consider 8 years enough for rapists?

      March 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Solibfiscon

    @Outspoken, Regarding the issue of taxpayers paying for this mans housing, food, clothes, healthcare, etc. for 14 years you couldnt be more right however if we are looking for people who are a wast of taxpayer dollars don't we start with low level drug charges, or murderers who spend the last 50 years of their life with free healthcare 3 hots and a cot. Our severe crimes must be punished accordingly (Capitol Punishment) and we need to revamp our nations drug policies to keep small time drug users (especially Marijuana). Sorry for the rant.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      "...and we need to revamp our nations drug policies to keep small time drug users (especially Marijuana)." ??? To keep small time drug users – "what"? In jail, in business, what?

      March 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • KJC

      Interestingly enough, due to the lengthy appeals process for a prisoner sentence to death, which involves attorneys, judges, extensive research, and the like, capital punishment actually ends up being on average more expensive than paying for someone to live in prison for life. I am an adult now, but I learned that when I was in high school for a capital punishment debate. I am not saying money should drive the decision for capital punishment, because it is also a profoundly ethical discussion, but most people are ill-informed about the actual costs.

      March 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Earnest T Bass

    After Obama looses the election and before leaving office Blagojevich will be pardoned like the boys in Mississippi. What a System.

    March 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ernest T. Bass

      I guess President Obama could "loose" the election. I don't think, however, that he will "lose" the election.

      Let another comment loose!

      March 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • think100

      would he win a spelling bee? or would he loose it?

      March 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BLah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @AmazedinFL

    No, you're missing the point! Prior to our military buildup in 2002 to invade Iraq, in accordance with UN resolution calling for the disarmament of Iraq, the US congress also approved the War Powers Act meaning that military intervention would commence "IF" and only "IF" Iraq did not comply with the disarmament resolution. However, what the War Powers Act did not do was give GWB the authority authority to invade Iraq while it was in full compliance with the disarmament resolution. Furthermore, the War Powers Act didn't give GWB the authority to prematurely ejecting UN inspectors from doing their job in Iraq to start an unjust war.

    And as the whole world fully saw, the UN inspectors were being successful in disarming Iraq peacefully and without bloodshed and loss of life as both long and short range missiles were being destroyed daily, before the eyes of the world. Subsequently, the Iraqi military was becoming ineffective and obselete and Iraq was no longer a threat to its neighbors and neither was it an imminent threat to the US. And to invade a country in peril to bring about stability is one thing but to invade and destabilize a country at peace without just cause is without a doubt, one of the worst war crimes of modern history. So regarding your comment that most of our congres voted for an invasion of Iraq, let me correct you and say that our congress voted for the War Powers Act to support UN resolution to disarm Iraq peacefully which Iraq was doing! There was no need for that war!

    March 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      Your analysis is fundamentally flawed: nobody KNEW what the state of Iraq's weapons programs were BEFORE the invasion, that was the whole point, but history revisionists like yourself never quit trying to twist the truth. The truth is that Hussein was revelling in the PERCEPTION that he had all kinds of weapons and deliberately promoted this perception (isn't that one of the fundamental lessons in the Sun Tzu's "Art of War"?). This is exactly the kind of thoughtful rationalization that allowed Saddam Hussein to revel not only in his perceived power but, also the pain we were enduring after the 9/11 attacks. Your brand of rationalization also directly enabled the growing threat of Al Qaeda itself and allowed the attacks to happen. If you really do have a memory, you'll remember that even Clinton tried to strike at Al Qaeda using methods that I'm sure he felt when beyond what he really wanted to be responsible for, but they didn't work and that's the point. You have to go all in and be willing to do the hardest work. A history revisionist like yourself conveniently ignores the immense pressure that Iran now feels after seeing not only Iraq and Afghanistan (on either side of it) invaded by the US with the US demonstrating historically unprecedented resolve and commitment to not only stability, security, and self-rule of both countries, but also the insistence that basic human freedoms that much of the rest of the world enjoys be incorporated into those countries as well.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • David in Cincinnati

      History revisionist indeed! It was clear to some of us from the start, those who paid attention to the UN inspectors and to Bush' war lust, that hundreds of thousands of lives and $ 3 trillion were to be lost in exchange for Saddam's life. No country is shaking in their boots with our failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      March 15, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Roscoe Chait

    I bet Blago wishes he was locked up in Mississippi. He'd be out in a week. With a new car.

    March 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nik green

    Jack Abramoff? How come this name is cropping up again? He was alleged hijacker Mohamed Atta's "superlobbyist" buddyboy, whose mutual friend is the former president George W. Bush, who should also be in jail for accessory before the fact to mass murder.

    March 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DrptheLBomb

    Right-wing confederate trailer Trash? He/She didn't even read the Statement, and that defines the State of our Nation. Nothing else needs to be said. Hard Core Left: Do as I say, Not as I do. There is no God (except US), We embrace socialism, well for you anyway. Hard Core Right: We believe in personal responsibility, but that definition is liquid. Evolution? Dinosaurs? The BIBLE does not say anything about Dinosaurs! Oh and lets not forget, the best of all, "GO TO JAIL".

    March 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      It is this precise divide between the two parties that there is so much discourse in our country today.
      Both sides of the aisle are at fault, and both sides of the aisle are equally corruptable.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • David in Cincinnati

      Both sides are not equally corrupt. One side has discovered how to corrupt a segment of the voting people.

      March 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hyperion

    Jesus, he's not going to Rikers! He's going to a minimum security prison (The Location of Which he got to choose!!!) in Englewood, CO which is a gentrified suburb of Denver. It's the adult version of Chucky Cheese!

    March 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BLah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @AmazedinFL

    I agree with you that punishing our politicians for abuuse of power would send the right message that such behavior would not be tolerated in the future! But what message did the American people send to GWB when they re-elected him in 2004? First he and his brother Geb rigged the 2000 election and the US Supreme court appointed the dictator to office! Then we ended up with two deadly and costly war! And because of our ignorence and complacency in 2004, he rewarded us the worst economic crisis in America since the Great Depression! Seems like Republicans are always getting away with murder!

    March 15, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Go take your meds... beating a DEAD horse.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BLah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @bob

    No, its your argument that is flawed! We actually had UN inspectors on the ground in Iraq disarming Iraq in accordance with UN disarmament resolution without bloodshed and loss of life! And if we weren't sure what Iraq possessed in terms of WMD's, then UN inspectors were on the ground for that purpose! Furthermore,UN inspectots had visited every Iraqi military installation in the country and the process was ongoing and the UN's goal to disarm Iraq was being achieved peacefully. Furthermore, there was no time frame in which this goal was to be accomplished as it was a process and a process that had already made clear that Iraq was no longer a threat to the region and neither was it an imminent threat to the US. So why are you so in denial and quick to defend an illegitimate war that has caused so much innocent death and destruction?

    March 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BLah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @ bob

    I didn't read the latter part of your previous paragraph about our intervention in Iraq and now in Iran serving as a means of bringing stability and democracy the rest of the world enjoys!!! Bob, are you insane? What democracy have we brought to Iraq? let's face it, Iraq will never be stabilized and furthermore, Saddam Hussein may have been a brutal man but he knew his people best and perhaps it was his kind of rule that was necessary to deter and avert the kinds of tribal bloodshed we now see in Iraq as a result of our senseless and pointless invasion!

    March 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. socalgal

    There are murders that don’t get sentenced to that much time.5 yrs would have sufficed.

    March 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • BLah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      Agree!

      March 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • ALLAMERICAN

      I agree.

      March 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Toonces

      It's a good thing he didn't get caught smoking weed. He would have done a lot more time.

      March 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
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