• Cloakroom Confidential: Speaker-Apparent Paul Hires Adelson Hack: Crony Capitalist Revolving Door Turns Again

    Speaker-in-Waiting Paul Ryan (R-WI) hired a lobbyist to be his new Chief of Staff in the Speaker’s office. There is nothing wrong with that, but it should be noted that the hiring of David Hoppe of the lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs is bad news for those who like gaming on the Internet. Hoppe had clients ranging from Amazon to Delta Air Lines to Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

    Again, nothing wrong with a Member of Congress hiring a lobbyist, but anybody who lobbied for a client should make a public promise never to handle meetings or legislative strategy on an issue that paid a lobbying fee to that staffer. It just seems fair that any appearance of a conflict of interest should be avoided.

    Judges are supposed to avoid any conflict of interests when handling cases and must recuse themselves from any case that they litigated as a lawyer. This has happened all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    According to a December 31, 2011 Washington Post story:
    Federal law requires judges and justices, including those on the Supreme Court, to disqualify themselves when their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” as well as for specific reasons such as a financial interest or the involvement of a family member in the litigation. In addition, it calls for recusal when the judge has served in the government and “participated as counsel, adviser or material witness concerning the proceeding or expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy.”

    The House of Representatives does not have rules as restrictive as federal law as applied to federal judges. According to House rules, one can’t hold two jobs that create a conflict of interest, but there is no mandate that a staffer recuse themselves when their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” That being said, the operating procedure for the Chief of Staff of the Speaker of the House should keep his activities above reproach.

    From the list provided by Politico it seems like the gaming issue is the most likely issue to fall into the Speaker’s Chief of Staff’s agenda. Right now, there is a push from an army of lobbyists on K Street hired by Presidential King Maker Sheldon Adelson to stifle Internet freedom and pass a moratorium on gaming for a year or two. This idea ignores the fact that the state is the best place for the police power of regulations to occur. People of the state of Utah are likely to have a very different view of gaming than Nevada, or New Jersey. A number of states have explicitly allowed gaming and some have banned it. The people of the states retain the power to govern themselves pursuant to the Bill of Rights and the 10th Amendment to the Constitution that reserves to the state powers not explicitly enumerated to the federal government.

    David Hoppe has an excellent reputation within Washington, DC, so we can all hope that he voluntarily recuses himself from helping his old co-workers in the lobbying world whether it is for Adelson or any of his other former clients.

    Cloakroom Confidential

    Cloakroom Confidential was a longtime Capitol Hill staffer and insider who has contacts in the House and Senate at the highest levels.

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