The Real "American Hustle": Pressler Rejected Undercover FBI Bri - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

The Real "American Hustle": Pressler Rejected Undercover FBI Bribe

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 One of the movies nominated for a "Best Picture" Oscar was "American Hustle".
 It chronicles the FBI's "ABSCAM" operation in the late 1970's...which tried to bribe members of Congress to see if they would break the law.

 Of all the politicians who were targeted in the operation, only one of them said "no".
 
 "American Hustle" as it unfolds on the silver screen is a very interesting story for an outside observer.
 The real story behind American Hustle isn't in technicolor...but in grainy black and white images...and it chronicles a sad time in American political history.

 "They said for 50,000 dollars they would like very much to get a Visa for sheik so and so." In 1979...at the heart of the ABSCAM operation...the federal agents behind it ended up offering a bribe to former South Dakota Senator Larry Pressler, hoping he would bite....he didn't take the bait. "My exact words were....I would never do anything in exchange for a campaign contribution."

 This black and white video you see here and provided to KSFY News by Pressler himself...was taken secretly by the FBI in 1979. It shows an FBI agent offering Pressler a $50,000 bribe...and Pressler rejecting it.
 When it eventually got out that Pressler had rejected the bribe, it made him a national figure.
 He was considered a hero.
 But 35 years later, Pressler says the problem ABSCAM tried to highlight....still exists...just in a different way. "It has led to more legalization of bribery...I think..in Washington. That is people do it...but they do it through legal means through campaign contributions and so forth."

 Pressler says Congress and its members has allowed itself more access to money through the campaign finance laws it has put in place.
 He believes money has turned both the Democratic and Republican parties into what he calls money organizations instead of being idea organizations.
 And it is the memory of ABSCAM....and the present condition of Washington....which is what prompted him to run for Senate again...this time as an independent candidate. "Our country is coming unglued. I think we're coming unglued morally...its getting worse rather than getting better."
 
 Pressler says he hopes his candidacy will spur more of an independent political movement in America.
 If elected, he says he would serve just one...six year term.

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