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Barney Frank’s Reaction to Full Tilt

22 September 2011 by admin

barney-frankOn Tuesday, U.S. federal prosecutors added to the charges facing Full Tilt Poker, one of the poker websites whose indictment was unsealed on Black Friday. In addition to the previous charges of money laundering and wire fraud that the company allegedly engaged in to avoid UIGEA, the justice department dropped another bombshell. The poker company had been ripping off its own customers, with board members allegedly taking money from the accounts of players as payment. One prosecutor described the Full Tilt business model as a “Ponzi scheme.”

The association of online poker and a Ponzi scheme is the last thing the industry needs and many gambling opponents have jumped on the association. Barney Frank, the U.S. congressman most associated with the push to regulate online poker, has been put in the crosshairs, but he is not backing down.

It has been reported that Frank received $18,600 in campaign contributions from the three Full Tilt executives who have been indicted and are accused of running a Ponzi scheme, Howard Lederer, Rafael Furst and Chris Ferguson. When criticized for his ties to the company, Frank said that if the three are convicted he will return their campaign contributions, but he will not return money contributed to him by other parties at Full Tilt. Frank has received tens of thousands of campaign dollars from Full Tilt and others in the community connected to Full Tilt, such as the Poker Players Alliance Political Action Committee.

Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics has said that with Frank taking campaign money from an industry he would regulate “there’s certainly the potential for conflict of interest here.” Several Republicans have echoed that sentiment, but Frank insists that the Full Tilt scandal only proves that he is right and that the government needs to regulate the industry. Frank also seemed to trivialize the scandal, saying that the Full Tilt investigation is a waste of resources. “The U.S. attorneys haven’t done enough about mortgage fraud. They should be spending less time on full houses and more time on empty houses.” Frank’s close relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has also been criticized as one of the reasons for the mortgage crisis.

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