The Anti-Gambling Flip-Flop

How times change. How votes change.

As I mentioned in the Daily Muck, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is rolling out his Internet Gambling Prohibition Act again, and prospects are bright, now that Jack Abramoff isn’t around.

Back in October, the Washington Post had a gruesome blow-by-blow account of Abramoff’s victory in 2000, when he narrowly defeated the bill. It would have put his client, eLottery, Inc. out of business. He rounded up some holy soldiers, Ralph Reed and Rev. Louis Sheldon, and had them attack, armed with his brilliant spin that the anti-gambling bill was actually soft on gambling because it made an exception for horse racing and jai-alai.

Then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) played a key role in killing the bill. And there were a number of other Republicans who crossed over to oppose it, bringing Abramoff’s team great glee.

But things are different this time around. Goodlatte’s bill now boasts a whopping 118 co-sponsors.

And remember, this is the same bill. According to Goodlatte’s office, the current version is the same piece of legislation that failed in 2000 with only a few minor changes.

So – same bill. And as I noted before, Tom DeLay is a co-sponsor this go-around. We wondered who else had changed their mind, so we compared the roll call for the vote in 2000 with the list of co-sponsors. We found that eight members, seven Republicans and one Democrat, have changed their mind. They are:

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH)
Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA)
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX)
Rep. Gene Green (D-TX)
Rep. William Jenkins (R-TN)
Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-MN)
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA)

Now, there might be a perfectly legitimate explanation for changing one’s vote. But whatever it is, it’s not because the substance of the bill has changed. So inquiring minds want to know: is there any other explanation than that this time, Abramoff wasn’t against it? What is it?