Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Rep. Charlie Dent Retiring from Congress Earlier Than Expected

 Rep. Charlie Dent Retiring from Congress Earlier Than Expected

You know that feeling when you are around a person and you think to yourself, “Why won’t they just go away already?” Well, I’ve never been around him, but I’ve had that feeling about Rep. Charlie Dent (R – Penn.) for a while now. And guess what? He’s actually about to go away! Last fall, Dent announced that he would not run for re-election, but recently, he decided he wasn’t even going to wait for the end of his term and would walk away within the next few weeks. Though he is not my representative (mine is actually worse), I will not miss him.

Dent has positioned himself as a moderate Republican, serving as co-chair of the Tuesday Group Caucus, which is supposed to be a counter to the continued shifting of the party to the far right. But despite this positioning, Dent took up an extremely conservative stance on online poker, looking to ban it completely.

But it’s not even his objectively stupid stance on internet poker that I despise about him. It’s that he tried to get the game banned in an acutely unethical manner. See, he’s another one of those Sheldon Adelson jock-sniffers in Congress who will do the billionaire Republican donor’s bidding even if it goes against the best interest of his constituents (Pennsylvania, remember, legalized online poker and will see sites launch this year). Though Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) hasn’t done much on Capitol Hill and has been widely seen, even by most Republicans, as crony capitalism, Dent tried at least once to sneak RAWA language into an appropriations bill. The idea was to tack it on to a bill that was sure to pass without anyone noticing, then viola! No more online poker.

Here’s what the language looked like. Dent tried it in 2016, then was supposedly going to do it again last year, but I do not believe he ended up doing so:

The Memorandum Opinion for the Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, dated September 20, 2011, and pertaining to the lawfulness of proposals by Illinois and New York to use the Internet and out-of-state transaction processors to sell lottery tickets to in-state adults (including the applicability of the Wire Act (18 U.S.C. 1084) and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (31 U.S.C. 5361–5367) to such proposal), does not carry the force of law and shall have no force and effect for purposes of interpreting or applying section 5362(a)(10) of title 31, United States Code.

Fortunately, some of Dent’s lawmaker colleagues saw what he was doing and disapproved, so he only submitted the amendment then immediately withdrew it.

From various interviews, it seems like part of why Dent is leaving Congress early is that he’s simply sick of Donald Trump and his administration. While he hasn’t completely come out and condemned Trump, he has admitted that he is tired of all the childish tweets and insane behavior coming from the White House, that it all gets in the way of what he and others are trying to get accomplished (even if some of what he wants to accomplish is crap). He was going to be done at the end of the year anyway, so he figured, might as well end the headache and be done now.

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UIGEA Villain Rep. Bob Goodlatte Retiring from Congress

 UIGEA Villain Rep. Bob Goodlatte Retiring from Congress

With the focus nowadays on Senator Lindsey Graham, Sheldon Adelson, and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz when it comes to those trying to prevent regulated online poker in the United States, it is easy to forget the founding assholes of the anti-poker league. One of these reprobates, Rep. Robert Goodlatte, announced that he will be retiring from Congress next year.

Goodlatte was one of the co-authors of the infamous Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), which outlawed monetary transactions between financial institutions and online gambling sites. It didn’t make online poker explicitly illegal, just the means of funding accounts. Of course, as horse racing is important to Goodlatte’s Virginia, he made sure there was a carveout for that industry in the bill.

UIGEA wasn’t just awful because of its content, either. It was tacked on to the SAFE Port Act, a “must pass” piece of legislation, and as the bill was passed late at night, there was virtually no debate on the UIGEA. Most lawmakers hadn’t even read it.

The UIGEA didn’t end online poker in the U.S. immediately, though. Many online poker rooms and networks exited the U.S. market when the legislation took effect, but others ignored it and stayed. PokerStars has been the biggest online poker room in the world for a long time, but it wasn’t until the UIGEA that it rose to dominance. PokerStars, along with Full Tilt, Absolute Poker, and UltimateBet, came to rule the industry for a while because they remained in the U.S., gobbling up the gigantic player pool.

Of course, Black Friday came along in 2011, wiping out the U.S. online poker industry. Even now, just four states have legalized online poker with only three having sites up and running.

In a press release, Goodlatte said:

Every two years, Maryellen and I sat down to discuss whether to run again or not. When we discussed the 2018 election, the conversation ended a little differently than in past years. After much contemplation and prayer, we decided it was the right time for me to step aside and let someone else serve the Sixth District. I will not seek re-election. With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters.

The most entertaining part of his announcement came earlier, though, when he wrote, “….I’ve been proud to work on policies that have become law and advance fiscal conservatism, personal liberty, economic growth, and limited government.”

Hmm, let’s see. Sneaking in a bill to effectively stop online poker in the U.S. was an example of advancing personal liberty? No? Well then it was a way to advance economic growth, right? Oh, no? Then it has to be an example of limited government. Oh wait.

Good riddance to Bob Goodlatte. I hope he has fun with grandchildren and leaves the rest of us the hell alone.

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