Jack Abramoffs House of Cards (A White-Hat Lawyer Investigative Report)

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After a guilty plea in the Jack Abramoff Native American lobbying scandal and his dealings with SunCruz Casinos in January , he was sentenced to six years in federal prison for mail fraud , conspiracy to bribe public officials, and tax evasion , he served 43 months before being released on December 3, Abramoff's lobbying and the surrounding scandals and investigation are the subject of two films: the documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money , released in May , [7] and the feature film Casino Jack , released on December 17, , starring Kevin Spacey as Abramoff.

Abramoff's family moved to Beverly Hills, California , when he was ten in After seeing the film version of Fiddler on the Roof at age twelve, Abramoff decided to practice Orthodox Judaism. As an undergraduate at Brandeis University , [14] Abramoff served as Chairman of the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans, which organized student volunteers for Ronald Reagan 's presidential campaign , he graduated with a B.

Colorado lawyer makes cameo in 'House of Cards'

According to Nina Easton , Abramoff gained much of his credibility in the conservative movement through his father, Franklin Abramoff; as president of Diners Club International , Abramoff's father worked closely with Alfred S. Bloomingdale , a personal friend of Ronald Reagan. She was treated to several trips funded by Jack Abramoff when he was working as a lobbyist. Abramoff "changed the direction of the [college] committee and made it more activist and conservative than ever before", notes the CRNC.

Norquist served as executive director of the committee under Abramoff, he later recruited Ralph Reed , a former president of the University of Georgia College Republicans chapter, as an unpaid intern.

WHITE-COLLAR CRIME: HISTORY OF AN IDEA

Many would later hold key roles in state and national politics and business, and some would later interact with Abramoff in his role as a lobbyist; some of those relationships were at the core of the federal investigation. After Abramoff's election, the trio purged "dissidents" and re-wrote the CRNC's bylaws to consolidate their control over the organization.

According to Easton's Gang of Five , Reed was the "hatchet man" and "carried out Abramoff-Norquist orders with ruthless efficiency, not bothering to hide his fingerprints". In , the CRNC passed a resolution condemning "deliberate planted propaganda by the KGB and Soviet proxy forces" against the government of South Africa , at a time when the country's government was under worldwide criticism for its apartheid regime. In , Abramoff and other College Republicans formed the "USA Foundation", a non-partisan tax-exempt organization which held two days of rallies on college campuses around the United States celebrating the first anniversary of the invasion of Grenada.

In a letter to campus Republican leaders, Abramoff claimed:. While the Student Liberation Day Coalition is nonpartisan and intended only for educational purposes, I don't need to tell you how important this project is to our efforts as [College Republicans]. Out of this largely ceremonial conference came the International Freedom Foundation. Abramoff helped to organize, and also attended the conference.

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Abramoff's membership ended on a sour note when Citizens for America's sponsor Lewis Lehrman , a former New York gubernatorial candidate, concluded that Abramoff had spent his money carelessly. Abramoff spent 10 years in Hollywood , he developed wrote the story and produced, with his brother Robert, the film Red Scorpion. Nikolai sees the evil of the Soviets and changes sides, becoming a freedom fighter for the African side.

The South African government financed the film via the International Freedom Foundation , a front-group chaired by Abramoff, as part of its efforts to undermine international sympathy for the African National Congress ; [28] the filming location was in South-West Africa now Namibia. On April 27, , Abramoff wrote a letter to the editor of The Seattle Times rebutting an article critical of him and his alleged role as effectively a Public Relations puppet of the then- apartheid South African military.

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Abramoff rebutted:. The IFF was a conservative group which I headed, it was vigorously anti-Communist , but it was also actively anti-apartheid. In , it was one of the first conservative groups to call for the release of Nelson Mandela , a position for which it was roundly criticized by other conservatives at the time. While I headed the IFF, we accepted funding only from private individuals and corporations and would have absolutely rejected any offer of South African military funding, or any other kind of funding from any government — good or evil.

According to The Seattle Times , following the Republican takeover of Congress in , partner Emanuel Rouvelas determined that the firm "didn't have a conservative, Christian Coalition Republican with strong ties to the new Republican leadership"; [33] the traditionally Democratic -leaning firm hired Abramoff for the specific purpose of attaining these wanted ties. In , Abramoff began representing Native American tribes with gambling interests, he became involved with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw , a federally recognized tribe.

According to Washington Business Forward , a lobbying trade magazine, "Tom DeLay was a major factor in those victories, and the fight helped cement the alliance between the two men". The Washington Post , on December 29, , reported: "Jack Abramoff liked to slip into dialogue from The Godfather as he led his lobbying colleagues in planning their next conquest on Capitol Hill.

In a favorite bit, he would mimic an ice-cold Michael Corleone facing down a crooked politician's demand for a cut of Mafia gambling profits: 'Senator, you can have my answer now if you like. My offer is this: nothing.

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Gibney said, "one of his Abramoff's great gifts was being able to tell people what they wanted to hear, and this was how he was able to sell things and get them into trouble. After Abramoff paid for DeLay and his staffers to go on trips to the CNMI, they crafted policy that extended exemptions from federal immigration and labor laws to the islands' industries. Abramoff secretly funded a trip to the Marianas for Congressmen James E. Documentation indicates that Abramoff's lobbying team helped prepare Rep.

Ralph Hall 's R-TX statements on the House floor in which he attacked the credibility of escaped teenaged sex worker "Katrina", in an attempt to discredit her testimony regarding the state of the sex slave industry in the Marianas. Abramoff arranged for mailings from a Ralph Reed marketing company to Christian conservative voters, he bribed Roger Stillwell, a high-ranking political appointee at the Department of the Interior who was responsible for some Native American gaming policy; Stillwell pleaded guilty in to accepting gifts from Abramoff.

All government officials and employees are prohibited from accepting gifts from consultants, businesses and lobbyists. Family Network to "influence DeLay's vote in on legislation that helped make it possible for the International Monetary Fund to bail out the faltering Russian economy". Nevskaya was also involved in Abramoff's support of an Israeli military academy, as indicated by an email sent to Abramoff.

At Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff recruited a team of lobbyists known familiarly as "Team Abramoff"; the team included many of his former employees from Preston Gates and former senior staffers of members of Congress. Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana. Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana. Mashpee Wampanoag people of Massachusetts. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Native Americans. Pueblo of Santa Clara. Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.


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Tigua Native American Reservation. Around the time he joined Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff's choice of lobbying clients changed to focus much more on Native American tribes. While Abramoff was a registered lobbyist for 51 clients while working at Preston Gates, with only four being tribes, Abramoff would eventually represent 24 clients for whom he was registered lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig, of which seven were tribes. Tyco Inc. The work allegedly was never performed, and most of the fee Tyco paid Abramoff to lobby against the legislation was "diverted to entities controlled by Mr.

Abramoff's team represented the government of Malaysia , and worked toward improving Malaysian relations with the United States, particularly with trade relations. Abramoff also met with the government of Sudan , offering a plan to deflect criticism from American Christian groups over the regime's alleged role in the Darfur conflict.

Abramoff promised to enlist Reed to assist, as well as starting a grassroots campaign to improve the image of Sudan in America. From to , Channel One retained him to ensure Congress did not block funds to their service. Not only did Channel One face frequent campaigns by political groups to persuade Congress to limit its presence in schools, but it also derived much of its advertising revenue from U.

Since Abramoff and Channel One parted ways, Channel One's advertising revenues have dropped substantially, but a cause-and-effect relationship would be difficult to establish. Abramoff hosted many fundraisers at these skyboxes including events for politicians publicly opposed to gambling, such as Representative John Doolittle R - CA. Abramoff also was co-owner of Signatures Restaurant , a high-end Washington establishment which he used to reward friends and associates, his fellow lobbyist Kevin A. Ring treated Justice Department official Robert E.

Coughlin to free tickets to the skyboxes and took him out to Signatures multiple times in exchange for favors. DeLay, Ney and Florida Republican Representative Tom Feeney have each gone on golf trips to Scotland that were apparently arranged or funded by Abramoff; these trips took place in , and Ney and Feeney each claimed that their trips were paid for by the National Center for Public Policy Research , but the group denied this.

Spokespeople for Ney and Feeney blamed others for filing errors. Ney later pleaded guilty to knowing that Abramoff had paid for the trip. A former top procurement official in the Bush administration , David H.

Safavian , has been convicted of lying and obstruction of justice in connection with the Abramoff investigation. Safavian, who traveled to Scotland with Reed and Ney on a golf outing arranged by Abramoff, was accused of concealing from federal investigators information about Abramoff's plans to do business with the General Services Administration at the time of the golf trip — in particular, seeking help finding property for his private religious school, Eshkol Academy, and for one of his tribal clients. Safavian was then GSA chief of staff.

Jack Abramoff was a highly influential figure as lobbyist and activist in the Bush administration. Steven Griles. The draft report of the House Government Reform Committee said the documents — largely Abramoff's billing records and e-mails — listed lobbying contacts with White House officials over three years, including 10 with top Bush aide Karl Rove ; the report said that of the contacts listed, were described as meetings or other in-person contacts; 71 were described as phone conversations and 69 were e-mail exchanges.

In the first ten months of , the Abramoff lobbying team logged almost contacts with the Bush administration, [60] he may have used these senior level contacts to assist in his lobbying for Indian tribes concerning tribal gaming. The Department of the Interior has Federal regulatory authority over tribal affairs such as tribal recognition and gaming.

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White House and State Department officials described Bush's meeting with Bongo, whose government is regularly accused by the United States of human rights abuses, as routine; [65] the officials said they knew of no involvement by Abramoff in the arrangements. Officials at Gabon's embassy in Washington did not respond to written questions. Susan Ralston , Rove's assistant since , previously worked as an administrative assistant for both Abramoff and Reed. Mahathir insisted that someone unknown to him had paid for the meeting. Abramoff was identified in the background of a photo taken at the meeting.

According to the organization's communications director, John Kartch, the meeting was one of several gatherings with Bush sponsored by ATR. The details of the Kickapoo meeting and a letter dated May 10, , from ATR thanking the Kickapoos for their contribution were revealed to the New York Times in by former council elder Isidro Garza, who with Raul Garza no relation , is under indictment in Texas for embezzling tribal money.

According to Isidro Garza, Abramoff did not say the donation was required to meet Bush; the White House denied any knowledge of the transaction. Other photos have surfaced of Abramoff and Bush meeting at the White House and Oval Office on either December 22 or 23, ; the photos were found on a site that published many pictures of governmental events, ReflectionsOrders.

The owner of the site removed the photos almost immediately when the presence of Abramoff and Bush together was discovered; [70] some Internet users located the photos and preserved copies of some of them. An NPR news report from March stated that: " Abramoff recently granted a rare press interview to Vanity Fair magazine , where he asserts President Bush and other prominent figures in Washington know him very well.


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He called them liars for denying contact with him". In June , Abramoff began secretly granting exclusive interviews to former Boston Globe investigative reporter Gary S. Chafetz, without the knowledge of Abramoff's attorneys or the federal prosecutors with whom Abramoff had been cooperating; these interviews — conducted before and during Abramoff's imprisonment — continued until May In his book, Chafetz asserted that Abramoff, though guilty of some of the charges, was the victim of misleading and sensational reporting by the Washington Post , vengeance and mendacity on the part of Sen.

John McCain R- AZ , and strong-arm tactics of the Justice Department who forced Abramoff into confessing to crimes he did not believe he was guilty of. Chafetz also accused federal prosecutors of abusive — and possibly illegal — tactics in their reliance on private and public honest services fraud , which he characterized as vague and controversial. Abramoff has founded or run several non-profit organizations, including Capital Athletic Foundation and Eshkol Academy; as well as lobbying firms and political think tanks such as American International Center , GrassRoots Interactive, and the National Center for Public Policy Research.

While these organizations had varying degrees of legitimate activities, it has come to light that Abramoff used these organizations to channel millions of dollars to recipients not related to the organizations. Hundreds of thousands of dollars from CAF were also spent on golf trips to Scotland for Abramoff, Ney, Ralph Reed Safavian, as well as purchases of camping equipment sent to a high school friend. Abramoff solicited Safavian's help in looking for property deals for Eshkol Academy and tribal clients, leading to Safavian's conviction.

Millions of dollars flowed into GrassRoots Interactive in , the year it was created, and then flowed out again to unusual places.