Fifth Witness Added for Wednesday’s Congressional RAWA Hearing
Faced with protests asserting a partisan and highly orchestrated affair, House Judiciary Committee organizers have added a fifth witness to the list of those testifying tomorrow regarding HR 707, the RAWA (“Restore America’s Wire Act”) bill that seeks to ban most forms of online gambling in the United States. Added to the list of testifying witnesses early this week is Andrew Moylan, executive director and senior fellow at R Street, a conservative Washington D.C.-based think tank that specializes in states’ rights issues.
The addition of Moylan represents a counterbalancing of sorts, even though the overall mix of testifying “experts” in connection with RAWA remains heavily skewed toward conservative GOP and anti-gambling interests. Moylan joins John W. Kindt, Les Bernal, Michael K. Fagan and Perry Aftab on the witness list. Only Ms. Aftab, of those four, offers any technical expertise; the other three are well-known anti-gambling activists, including two college professors (Kindt and Fagan,) and the head of the Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation (Bernal).
Moylan isn’t exactly a technical expert, either. His conservative R Street group — named for both its conservative “R”epublican heritage and the fact that its original DC offices are only “steps from the actual R Street,” describes itself as a “free-market think tank with a pragmatic approach to public policy challenges.” Those often include states’ rights issues, and it’s quite likely that Moylan and R Street were added at the behest of House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), a pivotal figure in the short-term consideration that RAWA is likely to receive.
Rep. Goodlatte has been a foe of online gambling in the past, and played an important role in the undemocratic series of events orchestrated by former Sen. Bill Frist, that allowed 2006’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) to pass Congress and be signed into law.
Goodlatte supports his home state of Virginia’s horseracing industry wherever possible, but also bills himself as a federalist and a champion of the 1oth Amendment, which is an important part of the US Constitution’s states-rights framework. It’s uncertain at this point exactly how Goodlatte views RAWA, which was introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz at the behest of GOP megadonor and Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson. Chaffetz himself is another Judiciary Committee member.
Exactly how much of a counterbalance Moylan’s addition to the RAWA witness list remains to be seen. PPA Executive Director John Pappas, who today also published his own statement to be issued for the Judiciary Committee’s consideration, spoke warmly of Moylan’s credentials and outlook on the issue.
As Pappas told USPoker, “Andrew Moylan and R Street are a strong and credible voice in holding Congress accountable on matters of federalism and the 10th Amendment. Given RAWA’s serious implications for the rights of states to authorize and regulate internet gaming, Mr. Moylan will be a welcomed voice on the panel.”
Added Pappas, “While Congressman Chaffetz likes to claim his bill ‘restores’ Congressional intent with respect to Internet gaming, it actually does exactly the opposite. Every bill that Congress considered to prevent offshore and unregulated Internet gaming in the US always preserved the rights of states to authorize the activity.”
Wednesday’s hearing is scheduled at 4:00 pm ET before one of several Judiciary subcommittees, the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. The subcomittee is chaired by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and co-chaired by Rep. Louie Gohmert. Gohmert is one of RAWA’s co-sponsors, along with four of the subcommittee’s 14 other members (Forbes, Gowdy, Pierluisi and primary bill sponsor Chaffetz).
Links to a live webcast of the hearing should become available near start time at the Judiciary’s official web page.