The Post turned to Traditional Values Coalition head Lou Sheldon for comment on the idea that Gingrich would be using gambling funds to bankroll his right-wing agenda:
“The problem is the income comes from what we call a vice, and that is an issue,” said the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, which has long been a powerful voice on social issues inside the GOP.
“I certainly could never have done that and I certainly can’t encourage it, but if good will comes out of it in terms of these issues . . . then that remains to be seen. There’s an old expression that the devil’s had the money long enough, it’s about time the good people got their hands on it,” he said.
[Jack] Abramoff quietly arranged for eLottery to pay conservative, anti-gambling activists to help in the firm’s $2 million pro-gambling campaign, including Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, and the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition. Both kept in close contact with Abramoff about the arrangement, e-mails show. Abramoff also turned to prominent anti-tax conservative Grover Norquist, arranging to route some of eLottery’s money for Reed through Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform.
In May, eLottery hired Abramoff’s firm, Preston Gates & Ellis LLP, for $100,000 a month, according to lobbying reports. In the following months, Abramoff directed the company to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to various organizations, faxes, e-mails and court records show. The groups included Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform; Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition; companies affiliated with Reed; and a Seattle Orthodox Jewish foundation, Toward Tradition.
In 2000, Abramoff’s client, eLottery, faced devastation if Congress passed legislation prohibiting internet gambling. Abramoff’s solution was to take an exception for jai alai and horse racing contained in the legislation and argue that the exceptions would actually expand legalized gambling and then gin up right-wing opposition.
Unfortunately for him, most of the Right supported the bill, so Abramoff reached out to Sheldon and Ralph Reed in an effort to kill it. Sheldon when to work pushing House members to oppose the bill and targeting Reps. Robert Aderholt, J.C. Watts and others with mailers accusing them of supporting a “law the gamblers want” for having voted for the gambling bill.
In the end, Abramoff’s scheme paid off and Congress adjourned without passing the legislation.
It was no coincidence that Abramoff called Sheldon “Lucky Louie.”