American Conservative Union Voices Opposition to Restoration of Wire Act
The American Conservative Union last week denounced Rep. Jason Chaffetz for his support of Restoration of the Wire Act. The conservative group, which has supported Chaffetz in the past, is against RAWA due to the precedent it would set in the battle between states rights and central government.
In voicing its opposition to the Restoration of the Wire Act legislation, the ACU joins a number of conservative and right-wing organizations which oppose the bill. The Campaign for Liberty, The Taxpayers Protection Alliance, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute each have voiced opposition in the recent past.
GOP Lawmakers Unlikely to Feel Pressure
Those are important interests against the legislation pushed by Chaffetz in the U.S. House of Representatives and Sen. Lindsey Graham in the U.S. Senate, because they represent the core support groups from which such men usually draw their strength. Both Graham and Chaffetz gained in stature in the 114th Congress, with the Republicans now in support of both houses of Congress. But for that stature to be useful in any given vote, they need the support of their party.
With so many right-wing organizations speaking out against RAWA, Chaffetz and Graham are unlikely to be able to rally the Republican majority to vote through the bill. They will have to cobble together a bipartisan coalition, but most observers don’t see any way they can build a majority on the anti-online gambling issue. Many Democrats won’t support the bill, because they are less stringent on morality and vice laws, and because they see the bill as the pet project of arch-conservative donor, Sheldon Adelson. For the RAWA to be passed, it will need to be tacked on to an existing bill, but enough Republicans sit in opposition that such a tactic will produce blowback from the GOP lawmakers’ own party.
ACU Director Criticizes Chaffetz
ACU Executive Director Dan Schneider spoke on behalf of his organization in criticizing the Republican representative from Utah. The ACU is known for providing annual rankings of US politician. Those ranking show how much a politician agrees with what the ACU considers conservative ideals. In this case, Dan Schneider believe Chaffetz has strayed from his conservative ideals.
Schneider said, “Jason Chaffetz is a good conservative with an American Conservative Union lifetime rating of 94 percent. However, we are disappointed that on this issue he is taking the side of big government.”
Why Pass the RAWA Legislation?
Restoration of the Wire Act would outlaw online gambling throughout the United States with a comprehensive federal ban. At present, the U.S. Justice Department interprets the 2006 UIGEA to ban online sports gambling, but allow online casinos and poker rooms. The Justice Department arrived at that interpretation, because wire service casinos and poker rooms were not banned under the 1961 Wire Act, alongside sports betting over telephone lines.
Because of that ruling, the states of Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have approved legalized online poker rooms. New Jersey has licensed online casinos, too. These would be banned under Chaffetz’s legislation, essentially applying Utah’s anti-gambling laws to the rest of the 49 states. ACU sees that as unacceptable.
Dan Schneider Supports State Power
Dan Scheider added in his comments, “The ACU trusts governors, including the 31 Republicans, to set the gambling regulations in each state; whether that is prohibition or regulation. The federal government does have a role in legitimate law enforcement matters, but it should not take on the added responsibility of overriding a state’s inherent police powers.
Indeed, Congress already has expressly supported the rights of each state with this activity in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, where the fundamental principle of states’ rights was preserved.”
The American Conservative Union does not oppose Chaffetz on moral grounds. In fact, the Utah congressman and the conservative umbrella group have similar stances on the morality of gambling. What offends the ACU is the use of federal power to ram through any over-arching laws, at least when they interfere with the purview of the state governments.
ACU’s Past Accomplishments
The American Conservative Union was formed by conservative writer and thinker William F. Buckley in 1964. The ACU’s original mission statement was to support “a market economy, the doctrine of original intent of the framers of the Constitution, traditional moral values, and a strong national defense.”
The organization is highly respected in the Republican Party. In 1975, the ACU was one of the first organizations to support Ronald Reagan in his attempt to unseat Republican President Gerald Ford as the party’s nominee for US President. Though Reagan lost his election bid in 1976, he would reappear four years later and become president. Reagan would go on to become a GOP legend.
The ACU is quick to point out the reasons for their opposition to RAWA. Dan Schneider alluded to the growing and disproportionate influence of Sheldon Adelson, along with fear of federal power and the central government.
Against “Brute Force of Federal Government”
The ACU Director added. “Conservatives don’t have to agree on the value of gambling, but we should agree that it is unwise to use the brute force of the federal government to try to stop states from making their own decisions on this activity, especially if the reason for this action is to support gambling entrepreneurs in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately for them, what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas; it should be up to the states to determine if they want to reject or accept Vegas.“
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