Although the American people sent shockwaves through the Washington political establishment on Election Day, some members of Congress appear ready to ignore their clear message.
One of Donald Trump’s most popular campaign themes was “Drain the Swamp,” a direct slap at the way Washington conducts its business. His outsider campaign resonated with the American people, who are tired of seeing big donors and giant corporations benefit at the expense of everyone else.
Yet, as Congress enters its Lame Duck session, there appears to be an effort underway to reward the Republican Party’s biggest political donor with legislation that violates every core principle of the GOP.
Sheldon Adelson, an international casino owner and billionaire, gave millions to the Republican Party this year and, it appears, some want to reward him by passing legislation known as “RAWA,” the Restore America’s Wire Act. RAWA would impose a nationwide ban on legal and regulated Internet gambling and it would do so by overriding state law.
Gambling laws have long been set by the states. Utah, for instance, bans gambling, while Nevada and New Jersey allow it. That is called federalism and it is a core principle of the Republican Party.
RAWA would not only override these laws but would impose a blanket prohibition on the passage of future related legislation. Likewise, the bill would prohibit states from selling lottery tickets online, something that Georgia, Illinois, and other states already do. If this isn’t a clear violation of the Tenth Amendment, then nothing is.
Adelson, however, doesn’t care about core principles when it comes to his business. He views online gaming as competition for his brick-and-mortar casino empire, and passage of RAWA would conveniently criminalize his competition.
Adelson’s influence among the GOP was on display as he convinced several Senators, including his long-time ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), to introduce RAWA in the Senate, which incidentally was drafted by Adelson’s long-time lobbyist. Conservative opposition to the bill seemed to stall its progress until Adelson stroked another multi-million-dollar check in September.
The Washington Post recently reported that after Adelson donated to a political action committee affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell , Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton reintroduced Adelson’s bill. The Post noted:
The day after it became public that billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson gave $20 million to a super PAC with close ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), three GOP senators introduced legislation that would effectively ban online gambling — a measure Adelson has long pushed for.
The bill has never passed a Committee in the House or the Senate, yet it seems primed to be attached to a larger spending bill that will be sent to the president’s desk before Christmas.
Donald Trump and the GOP Congress were not elected to protect billionaires from competition, to outlaw competition, or to trample on the Constitution. They were entrusted to change the way Washington works. Attaching RAWA, or anything close to it, to a big omnibus spending package would be a betrayal of the trust that the American people have lent to the Republican Party. Let’s keep our representatives in Washington honest and ensure that they do nothing more than we sent them there for.