- New Jersey AG files a lawsuit against DOJ
- New Hampshire’s lawsuit proceeds unhindered by DOJ’s attempt for dismissal
- More legislation piling up against the Department
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has filed a lawsuit probing a possible connection between DOJ’s FOIA denials and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s meddling in the Wire Act Opinion.
New Jersey Sues DOJ for FOIA Request Denial
On Tuesday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The lawsuit claims that the DOJ’s refusal to grant the state access to information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) had been influenced by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and intended to cover meddling by third-parties into law altering decisions.
The lawsuit is looking into a link between the DOJ’s latest 1961 Wire Act Opinion signed by the Department at the beginning of 2019 and Mr. Adelson’s own interests of keeping the online casino industry at bay across the United States.
Mr. Adelson has long been one of the most vociferous opponents of online gambling in the United States, supported by the Coalition Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) a lobbyist organization Mr. Adelson has been more than happy to sponsor.
New Jersey’s Economy Relies on Online Gambling
The AG has stated that too much of the state’s economy relies on online gambling for the state to dismiss attempts to completely revert the economic model.
More specifically, Mr. Grewal wants to look into whether the latest Wire Act Opinion results from lobbying intended to “protect his personal business interests,” referring to Mr. Adelson.
Meanwhile, the CSIG includes many high-profile members, including Senator Blanche Lincoln whose company – the Lincoln Policy Group, may have had discussions with the DOJ at the beginning of the year.
The Lincoln Policy Group reportedly received payment to the amount of $30,000 by the Sands, the casino brand owned by Mr. Adelson. Similarly, Mr. Adelson is implicated in another case where he paid $80,000 to Steptoe & Johnson LLP, another lobbyist group which is accused to have held talks with DOJ members.
The sweep reversal of the Opinion did strike as strange. The 2018 draft targetted online gambling, but cited little reason for doing so. The Wire Act had been previously revised in 2011 when Illinois and New York contested an even earlier interpretation, winning a case in court and opening up the way for online lotteries.
Legal challenges are only now beginning to build up for DOJ’s Legal Counsel Office which was happy to rush through with the memo, but hasn’t anticipated the backfire. New Hampshire’s State Lottery launched a case in February, which the DOJ recently sought to dismiss the lawsuit.
On April, 10 Federal Judge Paul Barbadoro ruled in favor of New Hampshire.With New Jersey joining to apply pressure on the DOJ, the Wire Act Opinion is yet to go uncontested.