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Heist: Superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, His Republican Allies, and the Buying of Washington

Peter H. Stone, Author
Peter H. Stone, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $24 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-29931-6
Reviewed on: 08/07/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4299-9830-7
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-933633-69-5
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In this absorbing exposé, journalist Stone rakes through every bit of Abramoff muck, from his role as producer of the Dolph Lundgren thriller Red Scorpion to his efforts to shield Marianas Islands sweatshops from labor regulations and minimum-wage laws. In his ripest scam, Abramoff took Indian casinos for millions, largely to help quash rival gambling establishments; in one masterstroke, he lobbied to get the Tigua tribe's casino reopened—after secretly organizing the campaign that shut it down. No mere opportunist, Stone contends, Abramoff became "financial godfather to a conservative influence machine" and "indispensable bagman" to GOP stalwarts like Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed—who almost outsleazed Abramoff by organizing Christian antigambling crusades while collecting millions from Abramoff's tribal casino clients (and recently lost a Republican primary in Georgia perhaps because of this hypocrisy). Stone's sometimes repetitive account traces the labyrinthine routes—the charity front groups, the golf junkets—by which Abramoff funneled money to lawmakers and translated that influence into policy. The details can be eye glazing—as they were designed to be—but Stone keeps the story comprehensible while sprinkling in quotes from Abramoff's e-mails ("those moronic Tiguas... I'd love us to get our mitts on their moolah") that showcase his irrepressible grubbiness. The result is a troubling but colorful portrait of business as usual in Washington. (Oct.)

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