Revolving Doors and Midnight Lawmaking

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Up until March of this year, Washington lobbyist William Wichterman was registered with the D.C. law firm Covington & Burling.  While there, he represented the National Football League in the successful effort to push through the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which will force banks and other financial institutions to block their customers from placing bets at online poker, sports wagering, and other gaming sites.

(It’s worth noting that despite its protestations that online gambling fosters addiction and threatens to corrupt the spirit of competition, the NFL was able to win an exemption to the bill to allow for pay-for-play fantasy football leagues over the Internet.)

According to the Politico, in March, Wichterman was hired on as a White House aide.  His main responsibility?  Help the Bush administration write the rules of the UIGEA.  Wichterman and the White House are now trying to push the new rules through "before Nov. 17, in the narrow window before the new administration could make any changes, according to people familiar with these deliberations."

Wichterman’s short leap from chief UIGEA lobbyist to top UIGEA enforcer (before his gig at Covington, Wichterman worked for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, where he also worked to ban Internet gambling) has raised the suspicions of Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.). 

Cohen posed a series of questions in a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, including whether the White House knew of Wichterman’s lobbying for the UIGEA on behalf of the NFL; if so, why they allowed him to work on the enforcement of the Act, anyway; how much time the White House requires to lapse before lobbyists hired into the administration can go to work on the issues they were lobbying for; and if Wichterman plans to go back to representing the NFL after he leaves his stint in the White House.

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12 Responses to “Revolving Doors and Midnight Lawmaking”

  1. #1 |  CRNewsom | 

    This is a pretty big concern for me. Not only for the implications of hiring an insider for the NFL to write the law(s) that will govern online gambling, but for the US-WTO-Antigua & Barbuda relations.

    http://www.antiguawto.com

    Potential implications of WTO sanctions are pretty severe, as Antigua & Barbuda *could* not be forced to honor US intellectual property rights. This would be pretty bad for just about any company that has any trade secrets or intellectual property on which their business is based. Just imagine if (the old incarnation of) Napster were to put its servers on the island.

    I know this is not the point Radley was trying to make in this post, but I think it reflects that lack of insight some people in Washington have for issues that may have impact beyond our borders.

  2. #2 |  thomasblair | 

    They’re crooks. You know it, and I know it. The insane are writing the rules for the asylum.

  3. #3 |  jwh | 

    Yea, but everything will be just heavenly come Jan 20th, when The One is officially ordained………that, and the tank of gas, and lower taxes, and no more Gitmo, and, and, and………..oh, that’s right, he’ll have a whole bunch of Clinton cronies helping him……..

  4. #4 |  Windypundit | 

    jwh, Give it a break. We know. We’re libertarians and not Democrats because we know.

  5. #5 |  Greg N. | 

    Covington & Burling. Those guys have never done anything worthwhile.

  6. #6 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Steve Cohen worked for the liquor industry while in the TN state senate, so he knows *all* about helping industries push through legislation that helps only them.

  7. #7 |  GregoryMac | 

    And it came to pass. Soon the Messiah would bring even more internet regulation to protect his flock. Except for…

  8. #8 |  Greg N. | 

    Hey, minus one guy: I was just kidding.

  9. #9 |  Ryan | 

    Is having “unlawful” in the title of a proposed law somehow a bit too circularly convenient? I suspect here they are just using “unlawful” as a synonym for “naughty”, which is probably less cynical but possibly more troubling.

  10. #10 |  Brandon Bowers | 

    Is William Wichterman from Kentucky?

  11. #11 |  Sam | 

    Will this help?
    http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/11/the_podesta_briefing_no_cabine.php#more

  12. #12 |  Thomas Paine's Goiter | 

    http://digg.com/politics/Revolving_Doors_and_Midnight_Lawmaking

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