When Jack Abramoff ran for eighth-grade class president at Hawthorne Elementary School in Beverly Hills, he was called into the principal's office because his father had exceeded the $15 spending limit by throwing a campaign barbecue. A tearful Abramoff immediately withdrew. He went on to become a football and wrestling star at Beverly Hills High School before entering Brandeis College in Massachusetts, where he became chairman of the state College Republicans.
|Jack Abramoff: local boy|
After eight years as a Hollywood film producer -- Red Scorpion was his biggest credit -- Abramoff became a powerful Washington, D.C., lobbyist. Thirty years after his first food-related scandal, he used his own high-end restaurant, Signatures, to make deals and influence politicians. At his peak he earned more than $20 million a year and had, he now says, more than 100 congressmen in his back pocket.
But it all fell apart when the press started to raise questions about his treatment of clients. An outraged Congress, shocked -- shocked! -- that money had corrupted the political process, held hearings that focused on his treatment of Native American tribes who had hired him to protect their casinos. In 2006 Abramoff pled guilty to felony charges of fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion and served nearly four years in federal prison.
A feature film, Casino Jack, and a documentary, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, cemented his status as the poster boy for government corruption. Last month he released his memoir, Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America's Most Notorious Lobbyist.
L.A. WEEKLY: You hated the feature film, as well as the documentary. Why?
JACK ABRAMOFF: They made a movie that was too inside baseball. Most people couldn't figure out what was going on.
Would you consider doing your own film to tell your story?
Two is enough.More »