Film: Casino Jack and the United States of Money

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

May/June 2010 Issue

Five years on, the Jack Abramoff scandal seems like a distant memory. But the new documentary from director Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) portrays the rise and fall of the right-wing superlobbyist as a colorful prologue to the new era of unrestricted corporate campaign cash.

Casino Jack traces Abramoff’s early career as a College Republican alongside Ralph Reed and Karl Rove, as well as his farcical turn as the producer of an anti-Soviet action movie. The humor wears off when he arrives on K Street in the early ’90s, shilling for sweatshops in Saipan and extracting enormous fees from Indian tribes. By the time Abramoff hires a lifeguard to front a company that will launder millions in kickbacks, you have to at least admire his ambition. The film skims over the unraveling of Abramoff’s empire, but Gibney is clear that his downfall didn’t end the corruption. Abramoff’s exploitation of the system was unprecedented, but he didn’t invent it.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.