The Common Good hosted controversial reformed Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff for a luncheon discussion and Q&A about reforming lobbying practices in U.S. national politics after the release of his highly acclaimed book Capitol Punishment.
Capitol Punishment: The name Jack Abramoff is synonymous with Washington scandal, but the fascinating facts of his case are either largely unknown or wildly misunderstood. His memoir will serve as a corrective – an engrossing, informative work of political nonfiction that is also a gripping real-life thriller. The biggest surprise twist comes in the form of Abramoff himself, a smart, funny, charming, clear-eyed narrator who confounds every expectation of the media’s villainous portrait. He’s a perfect bundle of contradictions: an Orthodox Jew and upstanding family man with a staunch moral streak, caught in multiple scandals of bribery and corruption with an undercurrent of murder. Abramoff represented Indian tribes whose lucrative casinos were constantly under threat from proposed changes in law; though he charged the tribes many millions, he saved them billions by ensuring votes to support the livelihoods of their reservations. Much of Jack’s share was funneled not into his own coffers, but to charities. Abramoff on the front pages could not be further from the Jack Abramoff who’s ready to tell his honest and compelling story.
Jack Abramoff’s rollercoaster life story might as well be a major motion picture. In fact, it is. Dubbed on the cover of Time Magazine as the “Man Who Bought Washington,” Abramoff rose to become the nation’s most successful and prominent lobbyist, before becoming enmeshed in the most harrowing political scandal since Watergate.
Abramoff started his political career at Brandeis University as head of the College Republicans. After becoming national chairman of that group, Abramoff was soon named head of President Ronald Reagan’s grassroots lobbying organization on Capitol Hill. He held that position while attending Georgetown Law Center at night, and obtained his JD in 1986. After a detour into motion picture production, Abramoff returned to the nation’s capital to build one of the most successful lobbying practices in history.