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BEN VAN HOOK FOR TIME

The Lobbyist: Abramoff

At the center of the national controversy over House Majority Leader Tom Delay's alleged ethics violations is Jack Abramoff. The super-lobbyist, who has charged up to $750 an hour, now faces a series of Congressional and Justice Department investigations into whether he misled Indian tribes whom he represented in order to win them gaming licenses, or improperly used charities to end run tax laws or restrictions on lobbying.

Abramoff hasn't been saying muchuntil now. He spoke with TIME's Adam Zagorin to discuss his relationship with DeLay and the investigation into his lobbying activities. Here's a small taste of the interview. For a longer version, check out next week's TIME magazine.:

TIME: A U.S. senate investigation showed that you charged excessive amounts to certain Native American tribes and delivered little or nothing in return. Did you?

ABRAMOFF: The return on investment for these tribes, and all my clients, is far better than anything they or we could have imagined. The Native Americans I served are sophisticated business people. They are running a multi-billion dollar industry. They realize that spending millions to save billions is just good business.

TIME: In e-mail communications you describe your Native American clients in terms that could have been lifted from the Howard Stern Show. What were you thinking?

ABRAMOFF: I regret that in the heat of the locker room atmosphere of the lobbying world, I sometimes, rarely—but sometimes—I resorted to language more common to a drill sergeant or a football coach. Many of my e-mails have been maliciously taken out of context, another effort by those assaulting my career. As a result, I've been portrayed as a cynical barbarian preying on the very clients I was charged to defend. To read more, check out next week's TIME magazine on newsstands Monday, May 2nd