Given the twin $5 million gifts given by gambling mogul and Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, I wondered if reports of Gingrich favoring the industry would emerge.
According to an anti-gambling group based in Washington DC, Gingrich did in fact work to remove power from a government commission on gambling.
In this 1996 Washington Post article, Gingrich is quoted as favoring the removal of subpoena power from a commission being considered at the time.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has recommended a substantial weakening of a bill to examine the runaway growth of legalized gambling in America.
Speaking Monday at a fund-raiser in a Las Vegas casino, where he raised $70,000 for the reelection campaign of freshman Rep. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Gingrich said that a House bill to create a federal gambling commission should be modified so that the commission does not have the power to issue subpoenas.
According to a 1996 report in the Las Vegas Sun, Gingrich opposed a strong commission which led to some political fallout with a group he is now courting – religious conservatives.
Gingrich’s position has angered religious anti-gaming advocates who believe the gaming industry is calling the shots in Washington, D.C.
Methodist Minister Thomas Grey, executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, warned that efforts by Gingrich or other Republicans to water down the gaming commission bill could help Democratic President Clinton secure the “family values” vote in November.
“This could create great problems for Republicans because they’re making this a political issue,” Grey said. “This is a public relations disaster for these people.”
This Chicago Tribune report says Gingrich was the last obstacle of a tougher bill with power to get information via subpoena.
All of this should raise questions for Gingrich given that his non-profit organizations and his campaign have been underwritten by Sheldon Adelson, who casinos cater to gamblers here and in Asia.
Additional information: After I posted on Gingrich and gambling, Right Wing Watch’s Brian Tashman noted that many of Gingrich’s evangelical supporters had spoken out against gambling. Ironically, the American Family Association’s journal wrote about the gambling commission in 1997 and mentioned Gingrich’s role in appointing a person friendly to the gambling industry. He also eventually appointed Kay James, an anti-gambling member as well.
Last year Congress voted to establish a nine-member federal commission to study the impact of gambling in America. Under that legislation, the President, the House and the Senate are each to choose three members. Almost $500 billion is wagered annually producing over $40 billion in profits for the gambling industry, countless ruined lives and families, political corruption, and increased crime. The Washington Post recently editorialized that the “big-money gamblers are betting a bundle on President Clinton to do their bidding” and “stack” the commission with those favorable to the gambling interests. According to the Post, on the President’s short list are many with close ties to the gambling industry, including Bill Bible, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) has already used one of his two choices to appoint the chairman and CEO of a Las Vegas casino company. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO), a recipient of big gambling bucks, who gets one selection, favors the head of a union representing casino employees, the Post reports. Thus, the President’s three picks may determine the outcome of the commission’s work. He could make such a positive impact on America if he would only appoint three people with sound Judeo-Christian values and no ties to the gambling industry. Then we may learn the true impact of widespread gambling on America, and then states and communities may have some ammunition against the gambling industry as it seeks to expand. Will the President do the right thing? Don’t bet on it.
The AFA article criticizes Richard Gephardt for taking “big gambling bucks” and yet now Don Wildmon, founder of the AFA, is a supporter of Gingrich. Gingrich’s non-profit organizations have been funded with nearly $8 million in gambling donations and a PAC dedicated to getting him elected has accepted $5 million in donation from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and another $5 million from Adelson’s wife.
Are “big gambling bucks” OK now?
Via the Tampa Bay Times