RALPH REED AND eLOTTERY….For years, Ralph Reed has claimed that he was shocked ? shocked! ? to learn that when his friend Jack Abramoff hired him to lobby against an internet gambling ban in 2000, Abramoff was working on behalf of a gambling firm called eLottery. This wouldn’t be a big deal except that the gambling ban was sponsored by Reed’s Christian right pals, and in public Reed himself is virulently anti-gambling. Reed has always claimed that he didn’t know eLottery had anything to do with fighting the ban.

Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, you will be extremely unshocked to learn that Reed knew it all along:

The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act didn’t gain traction until [2000], when a deal was struck among sponsors of the bill, representatives of the gambling industry, and some of the nation’s most prominent religious conservatives.

On May 17, 2000, James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family; Charles Donovan, then the acting head of the Family Research Council; Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority; and Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, put their names to a compromise that gave the bill serious heft.

….Within five days of the evangelicals’ letter to Hastert, Abramoff had drawn up a contract for the services of Reed and his firm….[Abramoff’s boss] made his revisions and sent the entire message back to Abramoff, including the reference to “the elot project.”

On May 23, 2000, Abramoff forwarded the contract to Reed, with the “elot” reference still intact, and the notation: “Ralph, are these changes okay?”

Reed responded, “Yes.”

And Reed’s response? Back in October, he said that he didn’t learn about the eLottery connection until 2005. Now he’s backtracking, but only slightly: his latest story is that he knew that Abramoff had a business relationship with eLottery, but didn’t realize that eLottery was directly involved in fighting the gaming ban.

And what about the newly discovered email? “Campaign manager Jared Thomas declined to discuss the apparent inconsistency of Reed’s earlier statements and the date of the ‘elot’ e-mail.” I guess they need a few days to make up a new story.

Via the Carpetbagger.