Faith and Freedom Coalition leader says he is not allied to Adelson's Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling
A recent tweet from Ralph Reed, the controversial leader of the US religious group Faith & Freedom Coalition, has created confusion regarding the alleged involvement of the FFC with Sheldon Adelson's anti-online gambling initiative, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.
Using Twitter, Reed wrote that neither he nor the national FFC are affiliated or involved with the CSIG.
The issue arose after US newspapers reported that 11 chapters of the FFC had allied themselves with the CSIG, an occurrence that CSIG spokesman Dan Wilson appeared to confirm in a statement which said:
"These are state-based affiliates that don't normally stand with casino interests, but found common cause in order to halt Internet gambling. As far as I'm aware – none of the FFC chapters who are CSIG members received money from LVS [Las Vegas Sands]/Adelson."
However, Wilson went on to confirm that Reed was not personally involved with the group.
Confusing the issue further is the apparent reluctance of some of the FCC chapters allegedly associated with the CSIG to step forward and explain their relationship, although one – the Florida chapter – announced that it was not involved with the anti-online gambling body.
The conclusion is that at a national level the FFC has denied involvement with the CSIG, as has its leader, Ralph Reed, but it appears that some chapters have acted unilaterally (if they have in fact joined the CSIG) whilst others have been wrongly identified as being part of the CSIG.
Reed is probably wise to steer clear of involvement in a gambling issue; last time he did so in association with the notorious lobbyist "Casino Jack" Abramoff it did not end well. Remembering that affair, the publication Buzzfeed commented this week:
"Taking sides between duelling gambling interests brings Reed back to his professional Donnybrook. The celebrated leader of a resurgence of organized evangelical politics in the 1990s, he became a political consultant who, from 1999 to 2002, participated in a series of lucrative deals that figured at the centre of a damning Senate committee investigation on the efforts of Reed's ally, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, to fleece his Native American clients.
"'Every kind of charlatan and every type of crook has deceived and exploited America's native sons and daughters'," Sen. John McCain said of Abramoff's operation at a 2004 hearing. 'What sets this tale apart, what makes it truly extraordinary, is the extent and degree of the apparent exploitation and deceit.'"
Reed himself was never charged with a crime, and his lawyers heatedly denied in a letter to BuzzFeed that he had done anything wrong, threatening legal action if he was defamed.
However, as Buzzfeed points out:
"But the emails published in the Indian Affairs Committee investigation derailed Reed's career and put him at the heart of Abramoff's work with Mississippi Choctaw, Louisiana Coushatta, and Texas Tigua tribes.
"Reed's name appears 180 times in the committee's final 2006 report, as Abramoff's key ally in rallying Christian groups on behalf of Native American casino interests. Abramoff and his allies funneled millions to Reed's firm — but also worked to conceal its origins."
Contacted by Buzzfeed and asked whether he saw "any risk" in Reed's participation in the conflict on internet gambling between the CSIG and the pro-online gambling Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, Abramoff replied: "Not sure. It could go either way."
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