|Kevin Spacey in Casino Jack
Reviewers have noted that Michael Scanlon is portrayed as being even more corrupt than Jack Abramoff in the new film Casino Jack, which stars Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey.
Maybe there is a good reason for that: Scanlon really is a bigger dirt bag than Abramoff. For those of us in Alabama, that has special meaning. After all, Scanlon was the one-time press secretary for our former Republican Governor, Bob Riley.
How bad is Scanlon? He is trying to worm his way out of paying millions of dollars for his role in helping Abramoff scam American Indian tribes. Reports TPM Muckraker:
Michael Scanlon, Jack Abramoff's partner in crime, doesn't want to pony up the ill-gotten millions he owes to Abramoff's former lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig, and he doesn't think he has to, his attorneys said Tuesday in a court filing.
Scanlon, who worked hand-in-glove with Abramoff, pleaded guilty to defrauding a group of Native American tribes out of tens of millions of dollars and last month was sentenced to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay Greenberg for its losses. Greenberg has settled a series of actual and threatened lawsuits from the tribes that Scanlon and Abramoff defrauded, and now the K Street giant is demanding that Scanlon make good on the court-ordered compensation payments and pay the firm more than $17 million.
Will Scanlon get away with this? His lawyers are putting up a serious fight:
Not so fast, say Scanlon's attorneys, who argue the firm is liable in the scheme to defraud the tribes, which he and Abramoff carried out. The defense attorneys are urging a judge to determine that Scanlon can pursue the objection. If the judge agrees, Scanlon still must show that Greenberg played some role in the scheme or at least shares the liability for it and so must be blocked from receiving restitution.
Greenberg's lawyers last month called Scanlon's activities "reprehensible" and said they did not know about it or simply look the other way. If Greenberg is not compensated, its attorneys point out that Scanlon would be allowed to keep the money he made from the criminal scheme, which would do nothing to discourage the same type of white-collar corruption and misdeeds in the future.
A life of crime apparently has worked out pretty well for Scanlon. (Did we mention that he used to work for Bob Riley?)
Unlike Abramoff, who was struggling to support his family at the end of the scandal, Scanlon invested his tens of millions in real estate and is a very rich man by anyone's standards. A majority of his sentencing hearing last month was devoted to his real-estate development plans and whether he could travel to a hilltop luxury property he owns in St. Barts.
Perhaps now we know why Roger Ebert wrote the following in his review of Casino Jack, which hopefully will be coming soon to a theater near you:
The film's story line can be briefly summarized: The lobbyist Abramoff was a dutiful family man and Republican standard bearer who defrauded Indian tribes out of millions to lobby for their casinos. That enriched him and partner Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper) and a good many members of Congress, not all of them Republicans. Abramoff worked out every day, was an observant member of his temple and a smooth and elegant dresser. Somehow at his core, he had no principles and no honesty.
If Casino Jack puts up a good front, George Hickenlooper's film is merciless with Scanlon, a venal and vulgar man with the effrontery to flaunt his corruption. It is Spacey's performance that contains most of the movie's mystery; although Abramoff's actions left little room for justification, in Spacey's performance, there is some. Abramoff used much of the stolen money for good works, which made him appear charitable. His principal charity was himself, but there you are.
A "vulgar man with the effrontery to flaunt his corruption"? Did we mention that Michael Scanlon used to work for Bob Riley?