Paul Ryan’s Chief of Staff Has a History as an Anti-Gambling Activist
Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s ascension to the role of Speaker of the House is a mixed blessing for online gambling. In his term in the House of Representative, Paul Ryan has shown little animosity towards the online gambling industry. Ryan has only made four votes on the issue in his entire congressional career, signalling he has little interest in the issue himself.
On the other hand, the lobbying firm associated with his new chief of staff, Dave Hoppe, worked against online gambling on behalf of Sheldon Adelson. Dave Hoppe might not be a recognizable name to most outside the Beltway, but he is described as a Washington power broker. The 64-year old graduate of Notre Dame and Johns Hopkins University has been a lobbyist, senatorial chief of staff, and public policy specialist in his 15 years in Washington D.C.
Dave Hoppe’s Washington DC Career
John David Hoppe received a degree in government from Notre Dame. He has a masters in international relations from Johns Hopkins. His list of employers includes Jack Kemp, Daniel R. Coates, Trent Lott, John Kyl, and now Paul Ryan. He also has worked with the Heritage Foundation, as well as the Bipartisan Policy Center.
From 2003 to 2011, Mr. Hoppe was a lobbyist for the Quinn Gillespie & Associates, a powerful Washington lobbying firm. After a 2-year stint working with Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, he spent 2013 to 2015 running his own lobbying firm, Hoppe Strategies.
Ties to Sheldon Adelson
It was during that time that Dave Hoppe worked for Sheldon Adelson as a key member of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG). The anti-online gambling public policy group was created by Sheldon Adelson after his own company, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, failed to lobby members of congress to get anti-online gambling legislation. Sheldon Adelson has said his moral standards compel him to seek a ban on online gambling; Adelson became the 8th-wealthiest person on Earth on brick-and-mortar casino winnings.
The Washington Post has called into question Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s choice of a lobbyist as his chief of staff. The Post said Ryan’s choice gives more power to the controversial K Street lobbyists. Many see the revolving door policy between powerful lobbying firms like Squire Patton Boggs (also associated with Hoppe) and congressional offices to be disturbing–and possibly unethical.
A Chief of Staff’s Power
Despite those contentions, David Hoppe is going to be the person with the most access to the new Speaker of the House. What gives a chief of staff such power is his ability to restrict or allow access to the man in power. If someone wants Paul Ryan’s time, they have to go through Dave Hoppe.
Power of the Speaker of the House
Of course, Paul Ryan is going to be the man voting on issues. But as Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan is going to be the one setting the agenda in the House of Representatives. The Speaker decides which bills come up for a vote. The Speaker decides which representatives speak on the issues (in the House) and when. The Speaker commands the influence and authority of the majority party in the House, so Paul Ryan will have tremendous influence in Washington DC these next two years (at least).
Lobbying on Behalf of Sheldon Adelson
Several gaming media sources have speculated Paul Ryan and the Republican establishment are trying to “stay in good” with Sheldon Adelson. Dave Hoppe is a Washington power broker in his own right, with ties and connections with K Street and other powerful lobbying enclaves in the nation’s capital. While it does not hurt to choose a man with ties to the Las Vegas Sands Corp’s chairman, it would be oversimplification to think that was the only (or even main) reason Dave Hoppe was selected by the new House Speaker.
That does not mean Paul Ryan’s chief of staff won’t be in a position to influence decisions. If Dave Hoppe decides to make online gambling his cause, it could cause a lot of trouble for opponents of Restore America’s Wire Act. Hoppe Strategies has lobbied for the Ford Motor Company, Delta Airlines, and MarkLogic Corporation in the past two years. In fact, those are the clients he is most associated with. Lobbyists have many clients, so even a pivotal chief of staff is going to have to decide where to spend his political capital.
Why Dave Hoppe Was Chosen
The Washington Post’s “Power Post” blog said Paul Ryan reached out to Dave Hoppe as a way of reaching out to the Tea Party backbenchers who had played such a contentious role during the reigh of John Boehner. In doing so, Rep. Ryan is trying to shore up any support from that wing of the conservative movement. To lead his party effectively, Paul Ryan is going to have to walk a fine line between his party’s own factions. Both he and Hoppe are from Wisconsin, and both are proteges of the retired Jack Kemp. Thus, the two men were right for one another at this time.
In tapping Dave Hoppe for the top position in his office, Paul Ryan is reaching out a hand to the hard-right faction of the Republican Party. A press release by the new Speaker of the House said, “Dave has been a foot soldier in the conservative movement, and he is a good friend. His decades of experience fighting for the cause and his passionate commitment to conservative principles are just what I’m looking for to create a new kind of speakership.”