Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., a longtime advocate for federal legalization of Internet poker, accepted an estimated $20,000 in contributions from FullTilt Poker, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday.
Jessica Mackler, a spokeswoman for Berkley’s U.S. Senate campaign, said in an email statement the money would not be kept. It was unclear, however, how the funds would be disposed.
"These allegations are extremely troubling and, if true, threaten to unfairly cast a shadow over the entire online poker community thanks to the alleged actions of a few individuals," said Berkley.
The newspaper article focused on Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who has introduced several bills in Congress over the years to legalize Internet poker — including one currently pending — accepted $18,600 in contributions.
The newspaper reported that Berkley and Frank were tied for the highest amount of contributions from FullTilt.
The website was one three Internet poker sites shut down by the U.S. Justice Department in April following an nine count indictment charging the operators of the site with money laundering, bank fraud and operating an illegal gambling business.
On Tuesday, a federal prosecutor accused FullTilt of being “a massive ponzi scheme,” defrauding players of more than $443 million. Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, two of poker’s best-known superstars, were added to the civil complaint, because of their roles as directors of the company.
According to the Globe, Lederer, Ferguson and poker player Rafael Furst, another member of FullTilt’s board named in the complaint, have contributed almost $200,000 to congressional campaigns since 2007.