Movieline - 05/07/2010
"[A]s true stories of political corruption and hubris go, it's pretty explosive..."
Lobbyists have long played a powerful role in American politics, but it wasn't until Jack Abramoff became the center of a 2006 corruption scandal with ties to leading members of Congress (and even the White House) that many became aware of just how deep and pernicious their influence truly was. The son of a wealthy businessman, Abramoff became a Republican activist in college, involved in programs to raise funds for GOP candidates and supporting political movements in Angola and South Africa that he believed promoted a free-market ideology. In 2001, Abramoff took control of a profitable gaming empire after the murder of casino owner Gus Boulis, while also operating a lobbying business that curried political favor among Republican politicians through money and expensive gifts (one of his leading allies was GOP party whip Tom DeLay). However, when Abramoff was discovered to have defrauded a number of Native American groups hoping to open gambling casinos with promises of political favors that could be obtained for the right price, his empire came crashing to the ground, taking a number of important reputations along with it. Filmmaker Alex Gibney chronicles the rise and fall of Jack Abramoff and the often bizarre story of how his political and financial ambitions took root in the documentary CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY, which includes interviews with a number of his associates and rare newsreel footage of his early years as a political gadfly. CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY was an official selection at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.