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Posts Tagged ‘gambling’

Bad Press Day for Secretary of State Brunner

March 9th, 2010 Matt Comments off

I keep hearing that the buzz is, Jennfer Brunner completely screwed up by misplacing signatures for Attorney General candidate Steve Christopher. Grand conspiracies in government aren’t nearly as common as just plain, old fashioned incompetence. There hasn’t been more media updates about it, but this is what the Dayton Daily News reported yesterday.

And in other news, Jennybenny got slapped down for her latest efforts to try to “expose” a conservative 501c4′s group donors, even though there is no legal precedence for such organizations having to do so (Just ask Progress Ohio!).

The latest development is that Brunner can’t issue subpoenas to people who don’t live in Ohio. She is an attorney and a former judge- How does she not understand the law?

The Ohio Supreme Court issued an order yesterday putting on hold, pending a final determination, the last of the remaining subpoenas from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in a dispute about the funding behind a proposed referendum.

Last week, the court delayed enforcement of subpoenas issued to people affiliated with LetOhioVote.org, the group seeking the referendum on whether to add electronic slot machines at horse tracks, as well as to Tim Crawford, president of New Models, the Virginia-based nonprofit that was LetOhioVote.org’s sole source of funding last year.

Yesterday, the court also delayed a subpoena issued to Norm Cummings, identified as a consultant for LetOhioVote.org living in Colorado. Cummings and Crawford had argued that Brunner cannot issue subpoenas out of state.

While state government should always be transparent, here is a classic example of why private political organizations should not have to be. The purpose of Brunner’s witch hunt is a purely political one: to expose donors and make sure they feel political retribution. Basically, this means the state, on your dime, is doing the work on behalf of the gambling interest that Chris and Kim Redfern lobby for- MTR. Does no one else find this outrageous?

LetOhioVote.org Sues Brunner for Political Witchhunt

March 1st, 2010 Matt View Comments

Good! Jennifer Brunner, perhaps at the request of former advisor Sandy Theis (who before  leaving to work for Strickland, was simultaneously working for Jennifer & MTR, the gambling company which owns the race tracks), has worked hard to oppose your right as a voter to approve or disapprove of slot machines in Ohio racetracks.

Jennifer Brunner wants LetOhioVote.org to disclose donors, even though there is no legal precedent for a 501c4 to have to turn over donors. She is lying when she says otherwise:

The group attempting to block Ohio horse racing tracks from getting slot machines is suing to try to stop a probe by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

Brunner last month subpoenaed the principals behind LetOhioVote, hoping to force the conservative group to reveal its mysterious funding source and ensure it is complying with state campaign finance rules.

LetOhioVote on Monday countered by asking the Ohio Supreme Court to intervene and stop Brunner, saying that it is in full-compliance with Ohio’s laws and that the secretary is outside her scope of duty.

“Secretary Brunner is patently and unambiguously without authority to issue subpoenas, to compel testimony, to command production of documents, or to seek to enforce the subpoenas in furtherance of an investigation into whether LetOhioVote.org violated any campaign finance laws,” the group’s attorney, David Langdon, wrote in a brief to the court.

Brunner, a Democrat, said she expected LetOhioVote to run to the Supreme Court for help again.

“Going to court probably worsens its case in the court of public opinion,” Brunner said in a statement. “We believe the law requires disclosure, and that’s why we’ve undertaken an investigation that is required and authorized by law.”

LetOhioVote has already successfully taken a case related to the slots issue to the Supreme Court.

The group was created after Gov. Ted Strickland last year proposed allowing 17,500 slot machines at Ohio’s seven racetracks to raise money for the cash-strapped state budget.

LetOhioVote sued the Democratic governor, and the state Supreme Court sided with the group, saying Strickland’s plan was subject to a voter referendum.

The group then launched an effort to put the issue on the November ballot, which all but killed the governor’s plan.

But LetOhioVote has repeatedly dodged questions about where its funding is coming from. And when the group did finally have to file a campaign finance report, it listed all $1.55 million of its money as coming from one source — a Virginia-based outfit called New Models.

New Models was formed to engage in political activities but is required only to file reports with the Internal Revenue Service.

Tim Crawford is president of New Models. He raised money for former Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell’s 2006 campaign. Strickland beat Blackwell that year. Gene Pierce and Carlo LoParo, who are also active with LetOhioVote, also worked on Blackwell’s campaign that year.

The problem with this expected level of transparency would be to set various donors up for political retribution. Instead of being happy that voters can cast their ballot and decide if Gov. Strickland can put ballots into racetracks, Jennifer is working on behalf of gambling interests which funnel money to Democrats and is using the power of her office to expose what she likely expects to be are competing business or gaming interests.

In the end, she will lose in court and waste mountains of tax dollars in legal bills in the process. The goal here is to score cheap political points against former consultants to Brunner’s favorite punching bag, Ken Blackwell, while stop YOU from having a vote on state sponsored slot machines. I thought Democrats loved democracy?

The Columbus Dispatch’s Casino Lobbyist

February 25th, 2010 Matt Comments off

Wolfe Inc.’s massive, unprofitable PR firm called The Dispatch appears to have hired a lobbyist to lobby on its behalf for casino legislation. WOW

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Creative Gambling and Ted Strickland

December 15th, 2009 Matt View Comments

Per James Nash’s article in The Dispatch today, I give these entrepreneurs an “A” for creativity:

Even as authorities work to shut down computer-based Sweepstakes gambling machines in Ohio, a Florida company is trying to sell Ohio retailers on the concept of scratch-off phone cards that operate on the same principle.

The scratch-off phone cards have cash prizes of up to $7,777 and names such as Deuces Wild. But any resemblance to the Ohio Lottery’s own scratch-off tickets is only skin-deep, according to Odyssey Promotion, the Florida company marketing the new cards.

“We’re a phone-card company,” Odyssey marketing director Sonia Acosta said yesterday.

Purchasers pay $1 for a phone card that gives them a few minutes of phone time as well as a scratch-off game with the possibility of cash prizes. People need not purchase the phone card to play the game; they can send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the company to receive a free card, according to Odyssey.

But Ted Strickland, the gambling-loving Methodist “minister,” is not amused. Here is Strickland’s spokesbabe Amanda Wurst standing up for the state’s monopoly on ripping off poor inner-city blacks or others who can least afford it:

“[T]he description of this product sounds a lot like a scratch-off, and the Ohio Lottery, casinos and charitable gaming are the only legal gambling activities allowed in Ohio,” Wurst said. “If this is a violation of the law, the governor would want the proper authorities to thoroughly investigate the matter.”

If gambling isn’t really about funneling political contributions and increasing the Redfern family’s net worth, and is instead about job creation and economic activity, shouldn’t Gov. Strickland support these Ohio retailers and endorse a change in state law?

John Kasich Opposes the Columbus Casino? Why?

December 12th, 2009 Matt Comments off

This issue opens up an entire can of worms:

The probable Republican nominee for governor said he supports efforts to give Franklin County voters a chance to reject a casino in the Arena District.

Although he did not campaign against the constitutional amendment to permit casinos in the state’s four largest cities, John Kasich expressed full-throated opposition this week to the one planned in Columbus by Penn National Gaming of Pennsylvania.

Kasich said he supports any legislative effort that would allow Franklin County voters to opt out of the casino, including a resolution by state Sen. David Goodman, R-New Albany, for a May 2010 statewide ballot amendment that would allow host counties to reject a casino through a local vote.

“I’m totally for it,” Kasich said. “I’m for anything that’s going to give us another bite of the apple. We didn’t want this (casino) here. The voters didn’t want it here, and each thing that gives us a chance to have home rule and a chance to be able to make a decision about the fact that we don’t want this thing shoved down our throat, I think is very good.”[...]

Anything we can do to change this around, I’m for,” Kasich said. “To give us a chance to say no and not disrupt our community, particularly when — just thinking about the Arena District and all the investment and all the good work with the (Blue Jackets) hockey team and Huntington Park and that. There’s so much excitement in that area. I just think we should be able to have a chance to reject this (casino).”Kasich said Issue 3 passed because “people were worried about jobs. I think that in some parts of the state they thought that this might help them. This is illustrative of the fact of grasping at straws here. So, we got a bad deal, which people really didn’t fully understand, and we don’t want it here.”

Typically, politicians don’t like to oppose issues which pass with voter approval… So why offer your first opinion on the subject AFTER the election is held? It wasn’t too long ago when Kasich was at least open to the idea of casinos.

There are two options here for why Kasich jumped into this debate now:

1) This could be John Kasich tapping into the populist movement in Columbus to oppose the casinos… a grassroots group is forming which is not remotely associated with Sandy Theis… which means it is quite legitimate. And he could be embracing the legitimate, morally conservative case to be made against gambling or is at least making the case for more local-control.

2) Franklin County GOP Chairman Doug Preisse and his lobbying firm, list Mountaineer Gaming (MTR) as one of their clients.

This is the same company that Kim Redfern lobbies for and was going to provide the slot machines to race tracks for Ted Strickland’s patchwork budget before the conservatives at LetOhioVote.org decided to put the issue before voters.

I don’t know which option is correct. However, there is no doubt that David Goodman, Rep. Cheryl Grossman, and others are opposing the casino on the behalf of MTR, as Doug reportedly made it very clear to candidates that party support depends on it. And it is probably not wise for candidates to fight The Columbus Dispatch publisher John Wolfe’s willingness to use his newspaper personal PR machine in his jihad against Dan Gilbert to keep them out of the Arena District. Gilbert already owns the Cleveland Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena, and I get the sense that Wolfe doesn’t want him taking over parts of the Arena district, such as the Blue Jackets. (He would rather have taxpayers bail out the hockey team.).

I have nothing against lobbyists, as they serve the very necessary role of helping groups of individuals and businesses petition our government. (People like to portray lobbyists as if they corrupt the political process, but I can assure you that corrupt politicians were corrupt long before any lobbyists and money showed up!)

And, there are people at Van Meter Ashbrook who I consider friends and are personally helpful to the Republican cause.

HOWEVER, with Chairman Preisse’s undeniably large role in Team Kasich, why wouldn’t John stay the hell away from this local issue? Even if Kasich’s intentions here are pure as the driven snow, perception is EVERYTHING in politics. And in this case, the perception stinks.

Ted Strickland and others may not raise the issue, as the Democrats also have much to gain financially from MTR, in the form of campaign contributions and money to the Redfern household. And I wouldn’t hold my breath to hear this potential conflict raised by Joe Hallett or others in Wolfe’s Dispatch.

And as a matter of policy, what precedent does it send when local governments can opt out of state constitutional amendments? the smoking ban? the traditional marriage amendment? paying for the Third Frontier? the new livestock board? At what point does this become absurd?

Conservatives should be skeptical of Chairman Preisse because, as we saw with how he backed county GOP efforts off the anti-Columbus income tax hike campaign, he is known for putting his clients above party and principle. It is perhaps time for Team Kasich to distance themselves from the Franklin County GOP, but maybe they are one in the same.

Do You Know Where Casinos Really Create Jobs?

September 9th, 2009 Matt View Comments

At least we know they are keeping tv/radio ad producers fully employed.

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Will Issue 3 End Church Fundraising Games?

August 21st, 2009 Matt View Comments

I rather indifferent to the gambling debate, and would love to see a flow chart for all the various gambling interests in Ohio, as it is surprisingly complicated. But I tried to get a response from Sandy Theis on this issue, as it sounds about as serious as when every state wide Republican office holder, except Ken Blackwell, opposed the 2004 marriage amendment because it would supposedly bring an end to domestic abuse laws while stopping government and universities from providing benefits to homosexual partners. Those concerns ended up being scare tactics and total lies.

Theis may spam me, but she won’t answer my questions- So I’ll ask you: Is this a fair comparison to the claims made by Theis’ MTR front group? If not, then why do so many ballot issues come down to debates over wording which was written by supposedly intelligent lawyers and approved by the Attorney General’s office?

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Phillip Morris on Ted Strickland’s Decision to Allow 18 Year Olds to Gamble

August 18th, 2009 Matt View Comments

From Phillip Morris in The Plain Dealer:

…[T}he hypocrisy of Ted Strickland’s state-sponsored gambling initiative is blatantly obvious.

He’s perfectly willing to eat Ohio’s young.

LetOhioVote.org Gets Their Day in Court- September 2!

August 15th, 2009 Matt Comments off

From The Dispatch’s Daily Briefing:

Gov. Ted Strickland’s plan for slot machines at racetracks will get its day in court early next month.

The Ohio Supreme Court today scheduled for Sept. 2 arguments in a case pitting a group of conservatives against the Democratic governor’s plan to launch video slot machines next May without a public vote.

The group, LetOhioVote.org, claims that Strickland lacks the authority to order the Ohio Lottery to install 2,500 video slot machines at each of the state’s seven racetracks without an election on the matter. LetOhioVote.org is angling for a vote in November 2010.

There is no doubt that the courts will run in favor of LetOhioVote, as slot machines are not lottery machines. And while the spineless twerps in the Ohio Senate Majority added to the budget legislation which was an attempt to strip away your right to vote on gambling. I think just by the courts agreeing to hear the case are saying that the state is in the wrong.

Hopefully, even the staunchest supporters of gambling agree with me that Gov. Strickland, by balancing the budget on VLTs, is a sign of how pathetic of a leader he is. The Senate Majority is content with helping Strickland avoid making tough decisions and ignore the will of Ohio voters, while LetOhioVote will turn the question of gambling to voters and will likely force legislators to make the tough decisions that will help Ohio avoid a MASSIVE tax increase in 2011.

If the Ohio Republican Party had their act together, there would be no need for LetOhioVote.org.

MTR’s TruthPac.org & Sandy Theis

August 6th, 2009 Matt View Comments

TruthPAC.org launched this morning, which is a new-anti gambling effort… or is it?:

It is unclear who is bankrolling this anti-casino effort. TruthPAC spokeswoman Sandy Theis said, “we expect money to come from a lot of different places from people opposed to this amendment but I don’t know where the initial money came from.” Theis said she would get an answer.

Theis most recently worked with MTR Gaming which filed suit last month at the Ohio Supreme Court hoping to knock the casino amendment off of the Nov. 3 ballot. MTR, chaired by Cleveland developer Jeff Jacobs, owns a Columbus area horse race track and casino in West Virginia that could be threatened by the Ohio casino proposal.

McLaughlin is also the personal pollster of MTR Chairman Jeff Jacobs. And MTR is the company providing the VLTs that Strickland unconstitutionally ordered to be placed in 7 racetracks. MTR is also the firm that Chris and  Kim Redfern lobby for.

In addition, their treasurer is Michael Johrendt, a business and tax attorney who served as Gov. Ted Strickland’s treasurer from 2005 until December 2008.

Therefore, this sure looks like a gambling interest opposing another gambling interest.

There is nothing wrong with special interests funding efforts which cause political change. In fact, I’m not even an advocate for full disclosure, as it can set up individual donors up for retribution. And being in favor or opposed to the expanion gambling doesn’t come close to touching the real issues which make Ohio such a lousy place to conduct business.

But I will do what is necessary to expose the money laundromat that is quitely being set up to help Ohio Democrats. Could this group be part of that effort? Yes.

Below the fold is their press release from this morning:

Click to continue reading “MTR’s TruthPac.org & Sandy Theis”

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Are Sandy Theis’ Duel Roles a Conflict of Interest?

July 19th, 2009 Matt Comments off

Yes, without question.

Strickland’s VLT Directive: Ohio Will Have Up to 17,500 Slots!

July 13th, 2009 Matt View Comments

The state keeps 50% of all net revenue, each track will pay $65,000,000 for a license, and each of the 7 racetracks can have up to 2500 VLTs.

Here is the text:

STRICKLANDVLT

This is expected to raise (supposedly) $933 million over the biennium, but I still think a deficit will linger and Strickland better pray the gambling ballot issues passes. In the mean time, Senate Republicans bought Gov. Strickland more than 6 months of breathing room and he gets to campaign as a fiscal conservative who didn’t raise taxes. Great job, idiots.

In the mean time, Mr. Zanotti- Let the lawsuits fly!

The Gaming Company that Mrs. Chris Redfern Lobbys For Saw Their Stock Price Increase by 50% on Friday

July 12th, 2009 Matt Comments off

On Thursday, I introduced you to Kim Redfern, the lobbyist and wife of the Ohio Democrat Party Chairman who may have a lot to do with Gov. Strickland’s change of heart on the gambling issue.

This happened right after the budget deal in the Ohio Senate to the interests she lobbys for, Mountaineer Gambling. (Here is her JLEC page)

Cha-ching! $$$:

* Deal addresses $3.2 billion budget gap

* Shares of MTR Gaming gain more than 50 percent

* Other companies could also benefit (Adds details, other stock impact)

LOS ANGELES, July 10 (Reuters) – Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and state lawmakers reached an agreement on Friday to help fill a $3.2 billion gap in the state’s budget by allowing racetracks to install slot machines.

Shares of racetrack operator MTR Gaming Group Inc (MNTG.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which had risen on earlier reports that Strickland was considering issuing an executive order authorizing the slots, ended the day with a gain of more than 50 percent.

“Under the bipartisan agreement, I will issue a directive instructing Ohio’s lottery director to expeditiously take all necessary actions to implement video lottery terminals at Ohio racetracks,” Strickland said in a statement.

He has said the plan to legalize video slots at the state’s seven racetracks would raise about $933 million over the course of Ohio’s two-year budget.

The final budget agreement “is not only balanced, but invests in education without raising taxes on Ohioans,” Strickland said.

Ohio voters have repeatedly rejected efforts to allow casino gambling in the state — most recently last year.

Shares of MTR Gaming, which operates a horse track in Columbus, Ohio, rose $1.17 to close at $3.48 on Nasdaq.

Other companies potentially benefiting from the expansion of gambling in Ohio include slot machine makers Bally Technologies Inc (BYI.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), WMS Industries (WMS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and International Game Technology (IGT.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Shares of Bally rose 3.5 percent, while WMS rose 4.2 percent and IGT rose 2.1 percent — all on the New York Stock Exchange.

Casino operator Penn National Gaming Inc (PENN.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) would be able to add slots to its racetrack in Toledo, Ohio but would face increased competition for its largest riverboat in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, Brean Murray Carret analyst Ryan Worst said in a research report last month.

He also said Pinnacle Entertainment Inc (PNK.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) would be hurt by increased competition for its Belterra riverboat in Indiana.

Shares of Penn fell 1.9 percent on Nasdaq, while Pinnacle’s shares ended the day on the NYSE with a gain of 0.5 percent. (Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

Thanks to Ohio Senate Republicans caving on the budget negotiations, Chris Redfern is now a very happy husband:

chrisredfernmoney

Gov. Ted Strickland is “Wildly Optimistic” About Gambling Revenues

July 12th, 2009 Matt Comments off

James Nash at The Columbus Dispatch compares Strickland’s gambling proposal to what happened in PA:

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is counting on a much quicker turnaround. Strickland’s plan for slot machines at the state’s racetracks – and with it, the foundation of the state’s two-year oper- ating budget – depends on the machines booting up in May.

If Pennsylvania is precedent, Strickland is wildly optimistic.

“From what we went through here, I wouldn’t expect anything to start flowing as far as new gaming revenue for at least a year or two or even more,” said Doug Harbach, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell first proposed the idea in 2003. A year later, lawmakers authorized it. Then came lawsuits, local zoning disputes, public hearings across Pennsylvania and extensive background checks of would-be casino owners.

Read the rest here.

In addition to these hurdles, Nash goes on to mention that PA also didn’t have the extra burden of dealing with an anti-gambling group like the Ohio Roundtable, who will sue on the grounds that they believe Strickland is stretching the relm of the state constitutional amendment which authorized the state lottery (Article XV, Section 6, which passed on the May 1973 ballot with 63% of the vote).

PD’s Kevin O’Brien Speaks Truth to Power

July 9th, 2009 Matt Comments off

From his column:

Forget slots, at least for purposes of Ohio’s salvation. And forget tax increases; Ohioans overpay as it is.

A better bet would be to take a serious look at all of the wonderful things the state of Ohio does for us — and some of them are, indeed, wonderful — and start hacking.

Amen, my brother. Testify!

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Senate Republicans Appear to be Standing Firm Against Strickland’s Political Maneuvering

July 9th, 2009 Matt Comments off

Or at least that is the impression I get from the Ohio GOP’s latest boring legislative update:

And speaking of Sen. Jon Husted,  the Montgomery County Board of Elections, as of last week, was split on the question of his residency and the issue has been returned to SoS Jennifer Brunner. Here is a question a friend posed to me which is worth pondering:

Isn’t it inconsistent for Democrats to be outraged that Jon Husted really lives in Upper Arlington with his wife and still pays taxes on a home in Kettering, but they have no problem with the homeless listing park benches as their official address on voter registration forms?

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Clawback Provision

July 7th, 2009 Matt Comments off

From Aaron Marshall:

Strickland has said there isn’t time to put the slots issue before voters. But Republicans seized on language in a draft of the proposal that allows track owners to recoup license fees if voters approve a proposed November ballot issue allowing casinos in four Ohio cities.

Republicans say that so-called “clawback provision” makes any racetrack slots revenues contingent on the election anyway. They say that makes it a no-brainer to go to voters with a slots plan.

But Strickland said Monday that he doesn’t support the clawback. His spokeswoman said the draft language being circulated was House language, not necessarily what the governor favored.

“The governor has always made it clear that the legislature needed to work out the details,” said spokeswoman Amanda Wurst.

It wasn’t too long ago when Gov. Strickland was pounding his chest and saying “I own this issue.” But now he wants to hand it off to the legislature to decide details? Just like Keno, Strickland could just go ahead and do this own his own by executive order.

By the way, how much would the clawback be if the ballot issue passes? $45o million! And for you teachers out there, remember that gambling in Ohio always under-performs in terms of revenue, and yet Gov. Strickland’s education funding is based off of his gambling proposal.

Republicans need to call Strickland’s bluff on shutting down the government. The people of Ohio have said they want to vote on gambling, and there is absolutely no reason for the GOP to ignore the will of the people.

Steven Malanga vs. Ted Strickland’s Gambling Scheme

June 24th, 2009 Matt View Comments


“You don’t have to be a moralist to recoil at this trend because expanding legalized gambling to close budget gaps is lousy fiscal policy. It siphons money out of the private economy just as tax increases do and hardly ever accomplishes what government advocates promise it will.”

Click to continue reading “Steven Malanga vs. Ted Strickland’s Gambling Scheme”

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