DNC Wedges McCain on Gambling

It is well-known that one of the things that stopped right-wing wunderkind Ralph Reed’s political hopes dead in their tracks was his ties to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff and it was Reed’s work with Abramoff in protecting gambling interests that was particularly harmful to his relationship with the Religious Right, especially since Reed had ended up corrupting them in the process:

In 1999, Abramoff subcontracted Reed’s firm to generate opposition to attempts to legalize a state-sponsored lottery and video poker in Alabama, an effort that was bankrolled by the Choctaw Tribe in order to eliminate competition to its own casino in neighboring Mississippi. Reed promised that Century Strategies was “opening the bomb bays and holding nothing back” and his firm ultimately received $1.3 million from the Choctaws for this effort, which included engaging the Alabama chapter of the Christian Coalition, as well as influential right-wing figures such as James Dobson, to work to defeat the proposals.

The strategy had one small problem: the Alabama Christian Coalition had an explicit policy that it “will not be the recipient of any funds direct or in-direct or any in-kind direct or indirect from gambling interests.” (Emphasis in original.) Knowing this, Reed and Abramoff worked to hide the source of the $850,000 paid to the Christian Coalition for its anti-gambling efforts by funneling money from the Choctaws through Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington, DC anti-tax organization headed by their old College Republican friend Grover Norquist. When asked why the tribe’s money had to be funneled through conduits such as ATR, a Choctaw representative stated it was because Reed did not want it known that casino money was funding his operation: “It was our understanding that the structure was recommended by Jack Abramoff to accommodate Mr. Reed’s political concerns.”

Now it looks like the Democratic National Committee is trying to do the same to John McCain by seizing on this recent article regarding McCain’s affinity for gambling and his ties to the gambling industry and its lobbyists:

Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests — including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

The DNC has even produced a web ad highlighting the connection and, in what is certainly not a coincidence, released it exclusively to the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody:

The Brody File has learned that the Democratic National Committee is now going after John McCain and what they believe are his questionable ties to gambling lobbyists. The web ad begins Monday but later this week they will start putting the ad up on political, conservative and yes get this….religious websites.

Given the Religious Right’s long-held and deep-seated opposition to gambling, these revelations probably aren’t going to make McCain’s efforts to win its support any easier.