It has been revealed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Ralph Reed, who has condemned gambling as a “cancer on the American body politic,” worked five years ago to kill a proposed ban on Internet wagering, on behalf of a company in the online gambling industry. Reed, now a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Georgia, helped defeat the congressional proposal despite its strong support among many Republicans and conservative religious groups. At the time Reed was claiming to be totally against gambling of any kind. Among the groups supporting the anti-gambling legislation was the national Christian Coalition organization. Reed had left that group three years earlier to become a political and corporate consultant. Reed fought the anti-gambling ban as a subcontractor to Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s law firm. Reed and Abramoff were representing eLottery Inc., a Connecticut-based company that wants to help state lotteries sell tickets online. That was an activity the gambling measure in Congress would have prohibited. Reed was clearly on the side of this gambling concern while publicly proclaiming to be anti-gambling.
Anti-gambling activists say they never knew that Reed, whom they once considered a loyal ally, helped sink the proposal in the House of Representatives. Now some of them, who have criticized other work Reed performed on behalf of Indian tribes that own casinos, say his efforts on eLottery’s behalf undermine his image as a champion of public morality. Reed had cultivated that image as a leader of the religious conservative movement in the 1980s and ’90s. I hope he was sincere in his beliefs and public pronouncements during that time.
Since his days with the Christian Coalition, Reed consistently has identified himself as a gambling opponent. Speaking at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington in 1996, for instance, Reed called gambling “a cancer” and a “scourge” that was responsible for “orphaning children … [and] turning wives into widows.” Interestingly, in 2004, Reed told the National Journal, a publication that covers Washington politics, that his policy was to turn down work paid for by casinos. In that interview, he did not address working for other gambling interests. It’s impossible to accept Reed’s claims that he didn’t know his work against the measure benefited a company that could profit from online gambling. I understand that Jack Abramoff was known as “Casino Jack” at the time he and Reed were closely working together and were very good friends.
It should be noted that Ralph Reed has not been accused of wrongdoing. In any event, it looks like he and his buddy “Casino Jack,” have done mighty well financially. It’s hard to understand how Reed can talk one way and in public act another way in private. Clearly, he has some “strange bed fellows!” My mother told me years ago that actions speak louder than words. I wish Ralph’s mother had given him that very same advice. Had she done so, he wouldn’t be taking all of this gambling money.
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