Politics run in Abramoff's family
Jack Abramoff, once known as one of Washington's best lobbyists, spent 43 months in prison for corruption, fraud, and tax evasion.
Now his son, Alex Abramoff, is stepping into the political spotlight as one of this year's Associated Student presidential candidates at Santa Monica College.
“AS people might know [about his father's past], but I don’t think anybodyreally judges me because of it," Abramoff said. "The truth is that he is my dad; he is not me. I didn't make those decisions, and that’s not what I stand for.”
Abramoff created SMC's first Alumni Club, which he described as "a student version of the [SMC] Alumni Association." Eventually, his affinity for politics led him to run for AS president with the slate Corsairs Connected for the 2013-14 year.
Abramoff’s said his main focus for SMC is to create a network and give students a sense of direction by connecting current students with previous ones.
He said he attends SMC's VIP Welcome Day to help new students, as well as SMC's graduations to keep up with contact information from students who are leaving the school.
Abramoff said that he hopes that even after graduating or transferring from SMC, students stay connected.
“I have been through a lot of experiences in my life that helped me look past what I need as a single individual, and see really what we can use as a community, as a population, as humans in general, including the idea of networking, giving everybody that fair opportunity to work together,” Abramoff said.
While Abramoff said he believes in the potential of his club, he is also concerned with knowing how the school works, and what is needed to make it a better place.
"I’ve spent the past year-and-a-half really zeroing in on what moves at the school and how it does," Abramoff said. "I go to all the board of trustees meetings, and when I can’t, I download and listen to the podcast.”
At the time his father was sent to prison, Abramoff was living in Los Angeles, working various jobs as a skateboard engineer and a boxer. A year later, he moved to Israel and lived there for a year before coming back to LA.
Despite the hardships Abramoff faced, when his father went to prison, he said he only viewed this period as a positive time in his life.
"[My father going to jail was the] best thing that ever happened to me because I was able to see the world through that paradigm and I was able to take a step back and be like, alright, things happen, but there is nothing I can do to control it," Abramoff said.
Now, Jack Abramoff advocates reforming the government system to weed out corrupted lobbysists, according to his official website. In November 2011, he published a book called, “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist." He has been on countless radio and TV shows.
Abramoff said his father only played the D.C. political culture that revolved around money.
“Just because he was the biggest and best at what he did, [that] didn’t mean he was the only one, and doesn’t mean he is the only one still today," Abramoff said. "Everybody who is in power relies on money. It’s a not a democracy, it’s a capitalocracy. It’s not the people who want it; it’s the money that wants it.”
Abramoff hopes to get an international relations masters degree, and is set to graduate in June.
“I’m still very far from that, but it’s okay," Abramoff said. "I’m someone who is coming back to education after working, so I’m very patient. I don’t mind waiting."