James Dobson, the influential Christian leader of Focus on the Family, is striking back hard against allegations, made in the form of a New York Times ad by a left-wing special-interest group, that he is connected with convicted political fund-raiser Jack Abramoff and gambling interests.
The ad titled, “These Religious Leaders Have a Serious Gambling Problem,” was paid for by the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, a self-described “online grass-roots movement to combat the threat posed by the religious right to American democracy,” known as DefCon.
The group’s advisory board includes the executive director of the national Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a former ACLU director and the former president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
Dobson is using his nationwide broadcast today to defend himself against the allegations made in the ad and to explain what he believes are the motivations behind DefCon for attacking him.
Dobson was accused in the ad of being linked to Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist at the center of a corruption investigation. Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in a deal that required him to provide evidence about members of Congress.
As Focus on the Family reports, Dobson denies any association or link Abramoff.
“There is no connection,” says the organization’s website. “Dr. Dobson has never met Mr. Abramoff and, in fact, has never even spoken to him.”
The ad included pictures of Dobson as well as Ralph Reed, formerly of the Christian Coalition, and Rev. Louis R. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition. The ad claimed all three had “gambling problems.”
The ad accused Dobson of helping Abramoff by opposing gambling expansion in Alabama and Louisiana. Then Dobson was accused of receiving cash from the casinos that are already there for limiting competition.
Focus on the Family says it is a lie that Dobson received money from a casino.
“Focus on the Family has opposed gambling expansion nationwide for nearly 30 years because of the devastation it causes families; our campaigns against such expansion are motivated by allies in states like Alabama and Louisiana who share our view of gambling’s destructive power,” said a statement from the group. “Moreover, all of our anti-gambling efforts are paid for with our own money.”