Congressman Barney Frank, the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’s 4th congressional district, vowed thursday to return donations made to his campaign fund by Full Tilt Poker and the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), a lobbying group that received much of it’s funding from Full Tilt. The announcement came a day after new money laundering charges were made against four of Full Tilt’s board members.
Frank, who received $18,600 in campaign contributions from Full Tilt since 2007 and $14,000 from the PPA, said “I’m really very unpleasantly surprised that these guys were defrauding people”.
This comes on the heels of the New York Attorney in charge of prosecuting Full Tilt after the events of “Black Friday” when the US Government closed the poker site and seized its domain name levied new indictments against Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Ray Bitar and Rafe Furst for money laundering and stated that Full Tilt was running a worldwide Ponzi Scheme.
Frank, an avid poker player himself, has been known on Capitol Hill as the US’s biggest legislative supporter for the online poker industry. His public support of the online poker industry and gambling in general has netted the Massachussetts legislator vast amounts of campaign contributions from industry insiders and players alike. No mention was made of whether or not he intended to return other donations from the gambling industry.
Frank said he wants the US Department of Justice to establish a fund to compensate players who have not been able to recoup their money from the failed poker site. In the event such a fund is established, he will deposit the campaign contributions into the fund. If no fund is established, he said he will donate the money to charity.
The events of Black Friday and the criminal indictments against Full Tilt poker and members of its Board of Directors haven’t swayed Frank from his support of online gambling. He did, however, state that he now advocates a requirement that online casinos and card rooms keep players funds separate from operating expenses.