Attorney General Nominee Answers Online Gambling Questions
Late last month, prospective United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch had to suffer through the ordeal of a several-hour long confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. These sorts of hearings are usually filled with committee members hurling stupid, politically-motivated questions at the nominee, particularly if those members are not members of the same political party as the President, the person who nominated her. One of those committee members just happened to be Sheldon Adelson’s personal jock sniffer, Senator Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.). Sen. Graham decided to take it upon himself to shoehorn leading questions about online gambling and the Wire Act into his line of questioning, thinking he could somehow nail Lynch and get her to say that online gambling is the worst thing to happen to the U.S. since the stock market crash of 1929.
Lynch didn’t bite, basically telling Graham, “Look, dude, I’m not Attorney General yet and I haven’t studied the Wire Act and online gambling. I’ll check them out when I get the job.”
Following the hearing, the members of the committee, as they always do, submitted questions to Loretta Lynch. Sen. Graham, amongst other questions, gave her six questions about online gambling. The first two were basically the same using different words, asking Lynch if she agreed with the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) 2011 opinion that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting. Just like in the hearing, she essentially said that she doesn’t know and that she will read the opinion and the Act if she becomes Attorney General and make sure everything looks kosher. Reading between the lines, she basically gives Sen. Graham a big eye roll; she knows she would determine the opinion to be just fine. She even wrote, “I would welcome the opportunity to work with you and other Members of Congress to address concerns about online gambling through legislation,” meaning, “Stop trying enact law that doesn’t exists. If you want to change things, do it properly.”
The third question is an attempt to nail Lynch in a contradiction, pointing out that her office filed a civil forfeiture action against a defendant, including “as a predicate offense, the operation of gambling websites offering ‘casino games and sports betting.’”
Lynch responded by saying that the in the case, the money at issue was only from online sports betting and that the phrase “casino games” was simply taken from the defendant’s website. So much for that.
In the next two questions, Graham tried to damage the credibility of the OLC, you know, because it’s a part of the “Obama Administration” and probably has some sort of agenda. First, he asked if the OLC’s opinion carries “the force of the law,” to which Lynch replied that it didn’t, but it was still usually “treated as authoritative.”
Next, and this is by far my favorite part of the Q&A, Sen. Graham asked Loretta Lynch, “Do you think it was appropriate for OLC to effectively open the door for states to offer Internet gaming without the involvement of Congress, the public, law enforcement, and state and local officials?”
If given the opportunity, I would probably propose marriage to Lynch just because of her response:
Pursuant to delegation, OLC exercises the Attorney General’s authority to provide the President and executive agencies with advice on questions of law. Because OLC helps the President fulfill his constitutional obligation to take care that the law be faithfully executed, it is my understanding that the Office strives to provide an objective assessment of the law using traditional tools of statutory interpretation. These tools would not include seeking the views of Congress, the public, law enforcement, or state and local officials on a question of statutory interpretation.
Lynch then dropped the microphone and walked off the stage.
Well, there was one more online gambling question in the 221-page document. After attempting to put words in Lynch’s mouth by saying she agreed that terrorists could use online gambling to fund their activities, Graham asked if she would “suspend or revoke the OLC opinion” so she could review it. As before, she said she’ll review it, but won’t change anything if she deems it to be a reasonable opinion.
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