Post reported in October how Sheldon helped gambling interests
who did business with Abramoff -- and Sheldon. In 2000, eLottery,
an Abramoff client -- sent a $25,000 check to the Traditional
Values Coalition, as per Abramoff's instruction. Then, the anti-gambling
Sheldon lobbied enthusiastically against a bill to curb online
gambling. At Casa Sheldon, grease is a traditional value.
Internet Gambling Prohibition Act went down in flames in a House
vote, an Abramoff associate e-mailed colleagues, "There was
lucky Louie out front" high five-ing with some lobbyists.
Post called Sheldon to ask Sheldon about eLottery, Sheldon
said he did not remember receiving the check: "I don't think
I ever saw the check. It came in, and we paid the bill for some
of the printing."
is all tied to Jack? I'm shocked out of my socks." When I
reached Sheldon on his cell phone, he said he couldn't hear me.
After I left a message, there was no call back. So I'll use this
space to tell a story of conservative corruption -- of how money
greased the way for one conservative to lobby against his principles,
turn on conservatives with principles and mislead his flock.
note that the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act was far from pure.
After House members had their way with the measure, it was over-accessorized
with exemptions for horse racing, dog tracks and jai alai. As
the Post reported in 2000, some gambling interests --
casinos, riverboat operators, the American Gaming Association
-- supported the bill because they weren't too keen on competition.
The loopholes gave Sheldon a pretext to oppose the bill. Ditto
Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition head, who raked in
far more than Sheldon.
on the Family supported the measure, sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte,
R-Va. Half a loaf, as they say, is better than none.
DeLay, R-Texas -- to his undying discredit -- eschewed his longstanding
opposition to gambling and voted against the bill. While DeLay
failed to protect anti-gambling Republicans, Abramoff, Reed and
Sheldon attacked them. "Documents show that Abramoff's strategy
was to dispatch Sheldon to pressure about 10 social conservatives
in their home districts, accusing them of being soft on gambling
for supporting Goodlatte's bill," the Post reported.
Values Coalition mailer told constituents of anti-gambling Rep.
Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., that Aderholt voted yes on "the
law the gamblers want on horse and dog racing" and urged
recipients to "ask him to vote NO this time." The mailer
ran during a tough re-election campaign. Aderholt's opponent ran
ads quoting the mailer.
did more than politically wound cultural conservatives, they also
represented a betrayal -- a willingness to mislead -- conservative
voters, and gull them into acting against their own convictions.
Sheldon made fools of his followers.
noted in a statement e-mailed to me, "It is appalling that
the Rev. Lou Sheldon, on behalf of the Traditional Values Coalition,
worked to defeat Internet gambling prohibition legislation in
exchange for money from pro-gambling interests, according to published
reports. As a result, Internet gambling continues to thrive and
the trust between Rev. Sheldon and the people he claims to represent
has been violated. In addition, Rev. Sheldon's credibility in
the halls of Congress has been severely damaged."
the Values Action Team -- a coalition of conservatives -- booted
the Traditional Values Coalition out of its coalition. As the
National Review wrote, "PHRMA, the pharmaceutical
lobby, appears to have given money to a social-conservative group,
the Traditional Values Coalition, to send out letters attacking
pro-life congressmen who support the (drug) importation bill.
The TVC claims that the bill would make RU-486, the 'abortion
pill,' as easy to get as aspirin. Schoolgirls, it says, will be
able to get the drug legally over the Internet. These claims are
Rev. Lou Sheldon, the head of the TVC, should reread the commandment
about bearing false witness." In the wake of the Abramoff
plea agreement with federal prosecutors, D.C. Republicans are
trying to figure out how they'll reconfigure the House leadership.
More than a little soul-searching is in order.
gambling entity eLottery also helped bankroll a posh golf trip
to Scotland, a trip enjoyed by DeLay and a top aide, the Post
reported. DeLay's aides say that his votes are based on sound
policy. It would be easier to buy that if DeLay had voted for
the bill that opposes Internet gambling.
GOP members watched as the House leadership drifted away from
its roots and into the arms of well-funded interests. They've
forgotten who sent them to Washington and why.