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.