'Lucky Louie' Sheldon, Other Religious Right Leaders Pushed Gambling
The Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, a California-based Religious Right activist who claims to be opposed to the spread of legalized gambling, helped scuttle an anti-gambling measure five years ago after receiving a check from a gambling company, The Washington Post has reported.
Sheldon, whose Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) claims to represent 44,000 houses of worship, is best known for his strident anti-gay rhetoric. But like many Religious Right leaders, Sheldon has spoken out against legalized gambling. That did not stop him from accepting money from a gambling company in the summer of 2000.
The Post reported that the money from the eLottery firm was arranged by Jack Abramoff, a powerful D.C. lobbyist now under investigation for allegedly brokering corrupt deals involving members of Congress.
The eLottery firm wanted to make it easier for people to play lotteries in other states by selling tickets online. But a 1999 federal law designed to crack down on web-based gambling had hampered the company's growth. When another anti-internet gambling bill gained momentum in Congress in the spring of 2000, the group hired Abramoff to stop it.
Abramoff enlisted help from Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, and Sheldon. Because the new anti-gambling bill contained minor exceptions for jai alai and horse racing, Abramoff decided to try to persuade the Religious Right that the measure would actually expand gambling.
Most Religious Right groups rejected his appeal. Groups like Focus on the Family and the Christian Coalition remained strongly in support of the measure.
Abramoff realized he needed help. Reported The Post, "To reach the House conservatives, Abramoff turned to Sheldon, leader of the Orange County, Calif.-based Traditional Values Coalition, a politically potent group that publicly opposed gambling and said it represented 43,000 churches. Abramoff had teamed tip with Sheldon before on issues affecting his clients. Because of their previous success, Abramoff called Sheldon 'Lucky Louie,' former associates said. …