This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 30, 2015:
It has been said that someone with a reputation as an early riser can sleep ’til noon with impunity. So it appears to be with Jason Chaffetz, first elected to the House of Representatives from Utah’s 3rd congressional district in 2008. In the 111th Congress, he scored 92 out of 100 in the John Birch Society’s Freedom Index, which rates congressmen based on their adherence to the constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements. In other words, the FI is a shortcut to seeing just how closely any congressman comes to keeping his oath of office.
In the 112th Congress, Chaffetz slipped to 79 out of 100. In the 113th Congress, he slipped further, to 52. So far, in the 114th Congress, Chaffetz has levelled off, scoring 55 out of 100 on his voting record so far.
Sadly, he’s not helping his cause any by reintroducing RAWA – the Restoration of America’s Wire Act – which would extend the Federal Wire Act of 1961 to cover online gambling. In the process, if passed, it would override states that have allowed online gambling (New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada), and keep other states (like Pennsylvania) from enacting similar legislation for its citizens. It would also override and abrogate the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which Chaffetz swore to uphold and defend:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
In other words, if it’s not specifically allowed, it’s prohibited. One searches in vain in Article I, Section 8 for any reference to the federal government being given the power to regulate gambling. It’s up to the states to do so, if they care to, through state representatives elected by the citizens of that state.
Michael Hammond, Chief Counsel for Gun Owners of America, saw immediately the threat RAWA presents to the Tenth Amendment, as well as the Second, and along the way indirectly decried Chaffetz’ drift away from the Constitution and towards the money:
Some conservatives, such as Jason Chaffetz of Utah, say “Let’s regulate online gambling on the internet.” This legislation is being pushed by the bricks and mortar gambling people, led by Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas, who don’t want online gambling because they want people coming to their casinos.
It’s just another move which compromises conservatives’ ability to say “don’t regulate the internet” because you have people [like Chaffetz] saying conservatives should regulate the internet for conservative purposes.
The bottom line is: don’t regulate the internet. Don’t regulate it for conservative purposes, don’t regulate it for liberal purposes. It’s just none of the government’s business.
The money involved is large and intoxicating. Adelson, the chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, with a net worth estimated at $28 billion, has supported establishment Republican candidates for years. In 2012, for instance, he wrote checks totaling $150 million to those candidates. And now, online gambling is threatening his bricks and mortar empire. He is calling in his chips (sorry), and Chaffetz, among others, is buying them back. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) offered the same bill in the Senate at the same time that Chaffetz did, hoping to get action on it in time to open Adelson’s wallet for the 2016 presidential election.
Dean Chambers, writing for Buzzpo, wrote about the dangers of the bill if it passes:
The importance of the Tenth Amendment restrictions on the authority of the federal government cannot be underestimated. A federal government that can ignore the Tenth Amendment to prohibit internet-based gambling can also interfere with state authority on a number of other issues, including the regulation of the sales of alcohol and tobacco, legislation on state lotteries … including gambling and guns, and many other matters … that are reserved to the states.
Attorney Edward Woodson wrote that “the 10th Amendment affords states the ability to govern their own affairs. The Constitution provides that powers not specifically given to the federal government [by the Constitution] were reserved to the states. There are no exceptions or caveats to the rule.” He added:
States may pass laws with which you may not agree, but that doesn’t give the federal government the power to overturn [state] laws when politicians in Washington disagree.
Furthermore, the federal government can’t veto a [state] law just because they find a certain activity immoral – like gambling.
One of those successfully resisting (so far) the siren song of Adelson’s cash register is Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.). He is personally opposed to gambling on moral grounds but doesn’t let that override his good judgment in supporting the Constitution. But just to be sure, a number of conservative groups, including the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Conservative Union, Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, among others, have written Goodlatte a letter, keeping his feet to the Constitutional fire:
You no doubt will be placed under enormous pressure by vested interests pushing RAWA. We also understand and respect your long-standing opposition to gambling. That said, politics and one’s personal views should not trump the ability of states to regulate their own affairs….
We encourage you to continue to stand up for the Constitution, the Tenth Amendment, and the ability of the states to regulate their own affairs….
At this time Chaffetz’ bill appears to have little chance of passage, thanks to time limits and Congressional demands to consider other matters. But Chaffetz appears to have overstayed his constitutional welcome in Washington, DC, having drunk from the well of Kool-Aid provided by the likes of Adelson, who is now calling in his favors. Utahans would do well to watch carefully how he votes on other matters and determine if they might be better served with a more constitutional statesman representing them in Utah’s 3rd District.
TheBlaze.com: Banning Online Gaming Dangerous Precedent for Online Gun Sales
Huffington Post: Adelson-Backed Online Gambling Bill Splits GOP At Hearing
Tenth Amendment – U.S. Constitution
The Tenth Amendment Center: Billionaire Enlists Feds to Trample Tenth Amendment
Letter from Center for Freedom and Prosperity and others to Goodlatte
Buzzpo.com: Chaffetz Bill Ultimately Imperils Gun Rights
Online Poker Report: The Restoration of America’s Wire Act – Inside The Proposed Ban On Regulated Online Gambling
Chaffetz’ Freedom Index ratings