Washington’s famed lobbyist Jack Abramoff will soon train people to do what he knows best — navigate Washington’s pristine marble hallways about a subject that until recently he knew little about: bitcoin.
Just the word bitcoin makes you want to die, right?
Abramoff, who in 2008 was sentenced to four years in federal prison for conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion, has been hired on to a new reality show called Capitol Makeover: Bitcoin Brigade. The premise is to train nerdy techies how to communicate their mission with lawmakers. This means teaching them how to talk to lawmakers and polishing their images so they won’t make fools of themselves when they enter a lawmaker’s Capitol Hill office.
“They called me…gee can you help us?” Abramoff told The Mirror by phone late Monday. “They can’t even look you in the eye when they talk to you. They’re used to looking at computer screens all day.”
Abramoff’s job is to train these geeks on how to represent themselves without doing anything bad or corrupt.
“It’s entertaining..well, not entertaining, but entertaining in the following sense,” he said. “The issue is the entire world is exploding right now with this digital currency stuff. But on the other hand, Capitol Hill and the administration are in a panic. Bitcoins are being sent from Muslim communities in the U.S. to terrorists overseas.”
Blockchain Entertainment, a new TV and motion picture company, has hooked up with Ignition Creative to produce the show. Abramoff will be a conduit between nerdy techies and lawmakers, but he won’t be lobbying for the cause.
“Right now on the Hill there’s not a lot of knowledge about this world,” he said. “This group — AML Bitcoin — they’ve got the technology to fix it, but they want to make sure the bitcoin world isn’t destroyed in a way that doesn’t make sense.”
I asked Abramoff if he feels used because of the crimes he committed.
“I don’t think the guys, they’re not coming to me to use me for that,” he said. “They googled lobbyist and I was unfortunately one of the first 20 entries. For them it was fortunate — for me it’s a mixed bag.”
The show will include all sorts of practice sessions, but Abramoff says he hasn’t yet ironed out all the details.
The reality show will be filmed here in Washington. The timeframe is fall and filming will likely extend into the new year.
“These guys and gals have to be ready,” he said. “They can’t just march up to Capitol Hill. You have to be careful about that.”
Asked if he worries about his reputation these days, Abramoff replied, “Nah. I don’t really think about it. I have a different reputation with different people. If I sat around and thought about it, I’d go insane.”
He said he’s working hard on lobbying reform. “It’s hard. It’s just hard,” he said. “There are some inclinations within the administration to drain the swamp.”
Does Abramoff think the swamp needs to be drained? “Yeah, for sure. It’s causing immense dysfunction. It’s ridiculous what goes on in Washington. I think eventually it’ll get changed.”
Abramoff gives President Trump a big thumbs up and sees White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci‘s firing as normal growing pains.
“I don’t really know everything that happened there,” he said. “I don’t really have any inside knowledge. This is the guy [on the receiving end of] gyrations that a new administration goes through, especially when they are such outsiders and so outside the swamp. This is what happens. There seem to be a lot of corpses. Generally Trump is doing tremendous. I just hope they all get straightened out and keep going.”
Asked about how much he’ll reap for his services, Abramoff said he hasn’t worked out all the fine print.
“We haven’t negotiated,” he said. “I don’t expect to be paid well. I don’t know what it’ll be. I’m more interested in doing it and the challenge of working with these folks — talk about being fish out of water. Obviously, I think I have my work cut out for me. But they are very fine, nice people.”
He says their social skills are in need of work. “In Washington, you have to be so polished and perfect,” he said.
Abramoff believes he’s the man for the job.
“The request seemed odd, since I am used to training polished, crafty Washington insiders to lobby, not nerdy techies,” Abramoff said in a release. “But, AML Bitcoin’s group, while naïve to the cutthroat world of Washington, are the kind of people that most congressmen would love were they to get a chance. I signed right up and plan to train them to deal with the worst Washington has to offer!”