Shelley Berkley of Las Vegas Calls Move a ‘Ridiculous Abuse of Power’
When a federal act to protect the nation’s ports came in front of Congress at the end of
last month, only two members voted against it. The Act was deemed an absolute necessity
in the fight against terrorism, and as Congresswoman Shelley Berkley said, how does a
politician in an election year vote against port safety?
They don’t, not even Berkley, a Las Vegas Democrat who called the passing of the
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) “an invasion of our privacy and it
takes away our citizens’ rights.”
“What could be a greater invasion of privacy than government telling you cannot play
Internet poker in your own house?” she said. “This was a breathtaking abuse of exercise
of war power.”
Berkley’s Congressional district includes just about all of Las Vegas, and she has ties
to the casino industry as a former vice president of government and legal affairs for
the Sands Hotel.
She’s one of a handful of politicians who spoke out against Senate Majority Leader Bill
Frist’s attempt at getting the UIGEA attached to a major defense spending bill. He
initially failed, but succeed later in the week at the last minute in the session before
Congress broke for a long election-year recess.
This is what Berkley had to say about Frist’s first attempt in a fiery speech in front
of a half-empty Congressional chambers: “A ban on Internet gaming in the Defense bill?
How ridiculous is that? At a time when we have brave American men and women fighting and
dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Republican leadership is more worried about Americans
playing poker online than protecting our troops in the field.”
Although the UIGEA is considered a partisan bill, there’s no denying the rocket fuel
that blasted the issue in front of Congress came from Republican conservatives and
traditional, conservative organizations. Berkley isn’t shy about pointing this out, and
she’s all fire and brimstone when talking about it.
“The ban on Internet gaming was part of the Republican family values agenda. They passed
it to pound their chests and talk about how they’re protecting America’s youth,” Berkley
said. “You got a bunch of ideologues running Congress. They’re not interested in
anything that has a modicum of common sense; they’re only interested in a very narrow
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