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Jack A. Abramoff

Occupation: Lobbyist
Employer: Cassidy & Associates
Home: Washington, DC
Jack Abramoff’s long GOP career includes stints chairing the College Republican National Committee, sitting on the Republican National Committee and heading Reagan lobby group Citizens for America (see David Carmen). This orthodox Jew helped build the political power of the Christian Coalition and Pioneer Ralph Reed. He ostensibly founded the International Freedom Foundation (IFF) in 1985. But South Africa’s truth commission revealed in 1995 that the apartheid regime helped launch the IFF, paying it $1.5 million a year to burnish its pariah image and to smear Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress. After lending apartheid a happy face, Abramoff became a film producer. Working with IFF supporter Duncan Sellars, Abramoff produced Red Scorpion, the 1995 flick about ethnic-cleansing Aryans. Red Scorpion debuted at the time of the GOP’s takeover of Congress and Abramoff became a lobbyist at Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas, hitting the jackpot pushing Indian casinos. After he and several partners bought riverboat gambling company SunCruz Casinos in 2000, two of the partners began to feud. SunCruz went bankrupt after partner Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis got run off the road and shot to death in a rumored 2001 mob hit. A 2005 federal indictment charges Abramoff and partner Adam Kidan of defrauding lenders out of $60 million in the SunCruz deal. The indictment charges the duo with forging documents to make it appear that they invested $23 million of their own money in SunCruz, as required by the lenders. Abramoff was active with several other Pioneers in the K Street Project, in which GOP lobbyists harness their clout and that of their clients to advance the GOP’s agenda. Abramoff lobbies for clients that others would refuse. He helped the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands kill a 1998 bill to revoke its exemption from U.S. minimum wage laws. For $100,000 a month, Abramoff helped block legislation to help women who make “Made-in-USA” garments for $3 an hour. Abramoff compared the proposed Mariana reforms to Nazi laws that restricted the movement of Jews. Bringing some old clients when he switched firms in 2001, Abramoff helped make Greenberg Traurig the nation’s No. 5 grossing lobby firm in 2002. Greenberg Traurig (see James Miller and Fred Zeidman) quickly capitalized on the September 11th attacks, creating a “Government Contracts and Homeland Security Team.” Abramoff’s 2002 clients included aviation-security firm ICTS International and the General Council for Islamic Banks. Corporate-fraud giant Tyco was an early 2003 Abramoff client. But Abramoff found his biggest fortune in Indian tribes. Law enforcement officials met in 2003 to discuss a Coushatta Tribe audit that found that in one year $18 million from tribal social-service accounts went to lawyers and lobbyists. Greenberg Traurig pocketed almost $3 million of this, with $14 million going to Capitol Campaign Strategies, which reporters could not locate, and something called American International Center, which was traced to Abramoff associate Michael Scanlon, an ex-aide to Tom DeLay. The Washington Post reported in 2004 that three tribes, the Coushattas, the Saginaw Chippewas and the Agua Caliente paid a staggering $45 million over the past three years to Abramoff and Scanlon. As the U.S. Senate launched a probe of these huge tribal fees, Greenberg Traurig fired Abramoff in 2004, saying that he engaged in “personal transactions” that were “unacceptable.” These transaction turned out to be $10 million in kickbacks that Abramoff secretly took from Scanlon without telling the the tribes or his firm. The Coushatta Tribe sued Abramoff, Scanlon and Greenberg Traurig in late 2004, alleging that they were unjustly enriched by "fraudulent overbilling." Abramoff's attorney said his client, "Did the work he was asked to do by the Coushatta tribe and provided great results." After Greenberg, Abramoff became a consultant at the Cassidy & Associates lobby shop (see Mary Kate Johnson).
2000 cycle; Minor League Pioneer
2000 cycle; Major League Pioneer
2004 cycle; Major League Pioneer
2004 cycle; Ranger

Of Special Interest
Bush Appointee
Corporate or Campaign Scandal
Corporate Welfare Recipient/Dispenser
White House Sleepover Guest

  Profile last updated Nov 18, 2004