Daily Archives: July 9, 2008

Florida’s illegal gambling expansion appears to be stopped

The Florida Governor and House Speaker have been involved in a legal and political debate over the expansion of gambling that went all the way to the FL Supreme Court.  The Palm Beach Post explains the decision:

The Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Gov. Crist exceeded his authority last November when he signed a deal that, in exchange for payments to the state of at least $100 million a year, gave the Seminole Tribe exclusive right to offer high-stakes card games such as blackjack and baccarat at seven tribal casinos. For the deal to be valid, the court said, the Legislature would have to approve it. Such approval is a long shot, since House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, opposes expansion of gambling and filed the lawsuit that overturned the agreement – also called a compact – that the Supreme Court stuck down.

Even if the House were to approve the compact, which is clearly unlikely, another lawsuit filed by Pompano Park’s Isle Casino is pending, which would seek to invalidate the argument on federal grounds.  The Miami Herald explained:

In the suit, the casino claimed the gambling compact signed in November by the governor and the Seminole Tribe — owners of the Hard Rock chain — is invalid because it violates the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which allows tribes to play only games already authorized in Florida.

It appears that on all fronts the approval of table games in tribal casinos in Florida has been stopped and the Florida leadership that stood firm on the issue should be commended.


MO Atty. General candidate scrutinized for funneling of campaign contributions

The Associated Press along with several other news outlets and news blogs are reporting that Sen. Chris Koster has violated campaign finance laws in the state of Missouri by funneling campaign contribtions through outside groups and committees. We have previously reported on the fundraising tactics of Sen. Chris Koster, candidate for MO Attorney General (AG), and his use of money from gambling special interests to fuel his “law and order” campaign for AG:

While at first glance this may seem like an insider-only story, the Turner Report explains that Sen. Koster has turned to gambling special interests dollars to fuel his quest to be the state’s next Attorney General. According to the Turner Report:

Among the other contributors who circumvented contribution limits by giving first to the Economic Growth Committee, which then laundered their cash through the legislative committees were:

Ameristar Casinos, St. Charles and Kansas City, $17,450

The Associated Press account of Sen. Koster’s money-laudering operation is both eye-opening and shocking:

They met at an Italian restaurant in southwest Missouri. A campaign aide for Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Koster and the treasurer for a local Democratic committee. The purpose: a check exchange.

Koster’s aide handed the Democratic official a check from an innocuous-sounding group called the Economic Growth Council, along with a pair of letters she had created _ one from the Economic Growth Council accompanying its money, the other from Koster’s campaign soliciting money from the local political committee.

The letters were formalities. The Democratic official provided Koster’s aide a pair of checks similar in size to the amount she had received.

Just like that, Koster’s campaign channeled nearly $27,000 to itself _ part of the roughly $450,000 from big-time donors that got routed around campaign contribution limits to Koster in a three-month period.

E-mail communications obtained by The Associated Press show Koster’s campaign staff helped direct donors wishing to give more than the state limit to the Economic Growth Council, then coordinated the transfer of that money to local political party committees and onto Koster’s campaign _ a potential violation of an 8-year-old ruling against such orchestration.

Our last poltical contributions report shows that Sen. Koster has become accustomed to recieving donations from a variety of special interest groups, especially gambling special interests. As we compile the latest campaign contribution information from the casino industry, we will provide updates on this story.

Story Links:

– Political Fix: UPDATED: Mo GOP, Hatfield jumps into the fray over Koster’s fundraising

– The Turner Report: AP confirms Koster money-laundering operation outlined three months ago in Turner Report

– Missouri Political News: Koster’s ‘close consultation’ with Ethics Commission questioned

– Missouri Political News Service: Koster Campaign Busted Laundering Money