I am an enrolled member of a federally recognized Indian tribe in the United States. We have an Indian Casino and each year we receive money from the revenues of that casino. I had never discussed in depth any kind of politics on the state or federal level. It just wasn’t my thing until the news broke over lobbyist Jack Abramoff who successfully defrauded tribal casinos out of $85 million dollars. I felt it was my duty to go and see a new documentary called, Casino Jack and the United States of Money. It opened in U.S. theaters today May 7, 2010 and was directed by Alex Gibney.
When I heard that this documentary was going into production. I decided not to read anything more on the subject of Jack Abramoff. I wanted to wait and see what the director would lay out for me on this subject. I was not disappointed and I must say I was educated and informed about the lobbyists in our U.S. government. I got the message. America has a corrupt idea and that idea is greed. We have become a nation of selfish individuals who have our own agendas based on making money by using and abusing everyone to get that money.
This documentary has a great beginning that sets the tone throughout. What we see is that everyone was involved with Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. That includes President Bush who at a press conference denies taking a picture or dealing with Abramoff. A photo appears with them together, then later scanned photos pop up and even a videotape of them is seen at a White House dinner. It has been reported that Abramoff was a popular lobbyist with the Republican majority. They all knew him until he was investigated.
Abramoff’s whole life story is right here and you can see from the very beginning the way he uses people. He becomes the master of manipulation by getting others to give him money. In his college days he is praised at a Republican national convention by quoting from the film Patton starring George C. Scott. Jack even persuades people to donate money for a film he produces with actor, Dolph Lundgren. He then becomes a lobbyist and for a decade 1994-2004 Jack became a very influential and powerful man in Washington.
A federal probe began into who actually was involved with Abramoff. It has been reported that a half dozen lawmakers, Capitol Hill aides, business associates and government officials were being investigated. Abramoff arranged VIP seats at football games, free trips on corporate jets, money kickbacks through fake organizations and political favors. Also involved were hit men, murder, prostitutes, slave labor workshops and pitting lobbyists against each other. In the end, two Republicans gave up their leadership posts and one went to jail. Jack and his lobbyist friends either pled guilty and/or served prison terms as well.
The losers in this might be the Indian casinos and they may not be. Yes, $85 million dollars was stolen through lies from a greedy lobbyist who pushed a selfish agenda. I am angry with Abramoff. I am also angry with the tribes who naively wanted to play the political game. Could they be that stupid? Or were those Indian casinos pushing their own agenda? After all Abramoff helped squash other casinos being built in the state of Texas so only one tribe could reap those million dollar profits.
One big question for me as an American Indian of this documentary is. How much money did former Indian Republican Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell receive from Abramoff? He says he didn’t get anything and angrily points his finger at Jack in disgust during those court hearings. An earlier photo of Nighthorse and Abramoff together says so many other things though. I would love to see that documentary.