Last year, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina bewildered the nation when he suddenly took extreme interest in the need to ban online gambling in the US. Now, having announced his bid for a GOP Presidential nomination in 2016, it’s finally become crystal clear why Graham went gung-ho on anti-online gambling legislation in 2014.
Prior to his introduction of last year’s Senate edition of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (SB 2159, aka RAWA), the Senator had shown no interest whatsoever in supporting or opposing the debate over internet gambling. However, it’s been alleged that, last March—the very same month he introduced RAWA to the Senate—Graham was rubbing elbows with Sheldon Adelson at a political fundraiser in the casino magnate’s home.
As we all know, if there’s one ring leader in the push for anti-online gambling legislation, it’s Mr. Adelson. He’s the 81 year old CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp, and has a long history of throwing millions of dollars at any politician/candidate who will support his inordinately vehement opinions on political matters.
The next thing we know, Sen. Graham is fervent that a federal anti-online gambling bill be passed. Coincidence? I think we all know better.
Frighteningly enough, RAWA almost succeeded. Graham’s push in the Senate was mirrored in the House by Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, and along with their nominal co-sponsors, the two lobbied hard to get RAWA passed in the “lame duck” session. But in the end, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (a former advocate of federal online poker legislation, turned semi-anti-online gambling activist) shot it down.
Interestingly enough, Rep. Chaffetz was quick to reintroduce RAWA to the House at the start of the 2015-16 legislative session, but Sen. Graham did not. Did he have a sudden change of heart? Not exactly.
Earlier this year, Graham explained that he would reintroduce the anti-online gambling legislation, “if the world would stop blowing up”. The Senator was referring to the ongoing situation in the Middle East, which, according to a recent publication by Amber Philips of the Washington Post, is another concern he shares with his good pro-Israel buddy, Sheldon Adelson.
Ms. Philips’ report also pointed out that, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the US in early March of this year to address members of Congress, Sheldon Adelson held a(nother?) fundraiser for Lindsey Graham and his political action committee (PAC).
Adelson doesn’t have the best track record when backing Presidential candidates, but that hasn’t stopped him, or his intended beneficiaries, from trying. During the flagging Newt Gingrich GOP nomination campaign of 2012, it was reported that Adelson donated $15 million to keep his hopes alive. When that failed, he shifted his efforts to backing Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
The Washington Post found it “curious that Graham launched his bid for the White House without having reintroduced his bill to ban online gambling.” But as any political follower knows, it’s best to keep controversial issues out of the public eye at times like these.
“Anyone wanting to know whether Graham has a chance at the office he seeks should keep their eyes on this one, niche piece of legislation,” concluded Ms. Philips, referring to the imminent reintroduction of Graham’s anti-online gambling bill.