Gaming-Related Legislation: eLottery Inc. and the DeLay, Abramoff, Reed Connection

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The saga of the defeat of gaming-related legislation in 2000 and the connection with eLottery Inc., former House Majority Leader Thomas D. DeLay (R-Texas), lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and Ralph E. Reed, Jr., a Republican candidate for Georgia Lieutenant Governor and founder of the Christian Coalition, was first reported in March 2005 and has re-emerged in October 2005, as a result of on-going investigations and recent indictments of both DeLay and Abramoff.

The tale begins in 2000, when an "Indian tribe and a gambling services company made donations to a Washington public policy group that covered most of the cost of a $70,000 trip to Britain" by DeLay, "his wife, two aides and two lobbyists in 2000, two months before DeLay helped kill legislation opposed by the tribe and the company," the Washington Post reported March 12, 2005.

"The sponsor of the weeklong trip listed in DeLay's financial disclosures was the nonprofit National Center for Public Policy Research, but a person involved in arranging DeLay's travel said lobbyist Jack Abramoff had suggested the trip and then arranged for checks to be sent by two of his clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and eLottery Inc." [1]

"House ethics rules allow lawmakers and their staffs to have travel expenses paid only for officially connected travel and only by organizations directly connected to the trips. The rules also require that lawmakers accurately report the people or organizations that pay for the trips. They prohibit payments by registered lobbyists for lawmakers' travel." [2]

"Under House rules, lawmakers and their staffs are permitted to have travel expenses paid only for officially connected travel and only by organizations directly connected to the trip. Also, the rules require lawmakers to accurately report who is paying for the trips. Payments by registered lobbyists are not allowed." [3]

"Not long after the outing, Rep. DeLay, [then] the second most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, played a key role in killing gaming-related legislation opposed by the company and tribe." [4]

In July 2000, "DeLay and 43 other Republicans joined 114 Democrats in killing the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, which would have made it a federal crime to place certain bets over the Internet and was opposed by eLottery and the Choctaws. The bill was supported by 165 Republicans and 79 Democrats but fell about 25 votes short of passage; because of a parliamentary maneuver, it required a two-thirds majority vote." [5]

Abramoff and DeLay associate Reed, "who has condemned gambling as a 'cancer on the American body politic,' quietly worked five years ago to kill a proposed ban on Internet wagering — on behalf of" eLottery, Jim Galloway and Alan Judd reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 2, 2005. Reed "helped defeat the congressional proposal despite its strong support among many Republicans and conservative religious groups. Among them: the national Christian Coalition organization, which Reed had left three years earlier to become a political and corporate consultant."

"Reed's involvement in the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 2000, never previously reported, comes to light as authorities in Washington scrutinize the lobbying activities of Abramoff, a longtime friend who now is the target of several federal investigations," Galloway and Judd wrote. "The eLottery episode echoes Reed's work against a lottery, video poker and casinos in Alabama, Louisiana and Texas: As a subcontractor to two law firms that employed Abramoff, Reed's anti-gambling efforts were funded by gambling interests trying to protect their business."

"Federal records show eLottery spent $1.15 million to fight the anti-gambling measure during 2000. Of that, $720,000 went to Abramoff's law firm at the time, Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds of Washington. According to documents filed with the secretary of the U.S. Senate, Preston Gates represented no other client on the legislation," Galloway and Judd wrote.

Serving God and Mammon

In August 2004, Reed, then Southeast regional chairman of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign and former executive director of the Christian Coalition, confirmed "that he accepted more than $1 million in fees" from lobbyist Jack Abramoff and public relations executive Michael Scanlon "whose work on behalf of American Indian casinos prompted a federal investigation."

Meanwhile, Reed was "liaison to the Christian evangelical community, and many of its leaders are adamantly opposed to gambling. Reed has been widely credited with leading the political mobilization of the Christian right since the late 1980s." [6]

"For a sweet fee of $4 million, Mr. Reed concocted 'grass-roots anti-gambling' groups that Mr. Abramoff then deployed to stifle the tribal competitors of his clients." [7]

"For a skillful hypocrite like Mr. Reed, it was simple enough to 'get our pastors riled up' against yet another sinful establishment -- as he boasted in an e-mail to Mr. Abramoff -- because they understood gambling's destructive effects on families. At one point, he even persuaded James Dobson, probably the most powerful evangelical leader in the country, to organize opposition to a proposed casino in Texas. ... But Mr. Dobson has yet to speak out against the crooked matrix that misled him so badly, or the political leadership in Washington that profits from it." [8]

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