WASHINGTON -- Partisan lines are blurring as money pours into Washington in the fight over Internet gambling. Republican lobbyists are signing up to advocate for a company backed by one of the biggest Democratic Party donors, while Democratic lobbyists are taking money to help one of the most prolific GOP donors.
According to recent lobbying registration forms, Caesars Entertainment has signed up BGR Group and Clark Geduldig Cranford Nielsen, two major Republican lobbying firms, as it looks to win big profits through online gambling.
The Las Vegas casino company is launching its bid for Internet gambling supremacy through affiliate Caesars Acquisition Company. Its bet is being backed by billionaire investors George Soros, John Paulson and Leon Cooperman. Soros, who contributed tens of millions of dollars to independent groups to defeat President George W. Bush in the 2004 election, has already given more than $1 million to Democratic super PACs in the 2014 election cycle.
But the lobbyists signed up for Caesars include former Republican National Committee chairman and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour through his BGR Group and former Republican House staffers Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford.
Meanwhile, billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corporation has hired lobbyists, several with strong Democratic ties, at Capitol Counsel, Lincoln Policy Group and Steptoe & Johnson, as the company seeks to ban online gambling and cut into its competitors' profits.
Adelson pumped more than $100 million into Republican super PACs and "dark money" nonprofits in the 2012 election. More recently he has declared that he is willing to "spend whatever it takes" to defeat the "threat to our society" posed by online gambling.
The GOP mega-donor's Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling is getting lobbying help from former Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) through her Lincoln Policy Group. The coalition has also signed up bipartisan teams of advocates at Capitol Counsel -- Republican Aaron Cohen and Democrat Drew Goesl -- and Steptoe & Johnson -- Republican Daryl Nirenberg and Democrat Jason Abel, a former aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The various lobbying firms declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.
Already, Adelson has received backing from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who introduced legislation to ban Internet gambling. Graham has received more than $20,000 this election cycle from Adelson, his family and the Sands Corporation's political action committee, according to Federal Election Commission records.