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Sen. Lindsey Graham just can’t help sticking it to conservatives. From amnesty to his support of a cap and tax green energy scheme, Graham has spent his career in Washington undercutting conservatives while claiming to be one back home in the Palmetto State. His latest push for a federal ban on Internet gaming in order to assist a billionaire political contributor is no different — but this time conservatives groups are on notice.
Sheldon Adelson believes the advent of states choosing to legalize Internet gaming is a threat to his bottom line so he did what every man with billions would do — he formed a group made up of Washington insiders and hired a team of lobbyists to outlaw his competition. His legislation, known as Restore America’s Wire Act, would trample on state’s rights, open the door to regulation of the Internet and is the epitome of cronyism. Of course, Graham is the lead author of Adelson’s bill in the Senate.
A coalition of ten conservative groups have jumped in to oppose Graham and Adelson on principle. Freedom Works, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Taxpayers Protection Alliance and others are asking Congress to reject this bailout to the Sands Casino Corporation. In part, the letter states the Graham legislation is a “broad overreach by the federal government over matters traditionally reserved for the states.” The letter correctly states “[P]erhaps even more concerning is the fact that this bill allows the federal government to take a heavy hand in regulating the Internet, opening the door for increased Internet regulation in the future. By banning a select form of Internet commerce, the federal government is setting a troubling precedent and providing fodder to those who would like to see increased Internet regulation in the future.”
Graham’s bill is a giveaway to Mr. Adelson and the groups rightly point out that it “amounts to the federal government picking winners and losers – choosing select industries or private-sector businesses to succeed at the expense of others, which is at odds with free-market competition.”
Trampling federalism, regulating the Internet and helping a political donor is not the basis of conservative legislation but apparently Graham believes its the basis for raising the funds he needs to beat back real conservatives challenging him in the primary.
The issue at hand with this legislation is not gambling but the proper role of the federal government. On June 10, the issue at hand for South Carolina Republicans will be the proper role for Lindsey Graham, which is of course former Senator from South Carolina.