Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to legalize sports betting in Florida. Most recently, a gambling compact between Florida and the Seminoles was shut down by a Federal Judge over the provision to legalize sports betting. Florida law requires any new gambling to be approved by the voters, and that compact side-stepped the will of the people. The solution by those pushing for legalized sports betting then, is to bring the issue before the people via initiative petition. To get on the ballot, a certain amount of signatures is required by a certain deadline and it was very clear that even after millions of dollars had been spent, those pushing the petitions were woefully short of the required signature. So perhaps it’s not surprising that after an unexpected and sudden surge of signatures as the deadline neared, election supervisors would raise serious fraud concerns. The Miami-Herald is reporting on what could be one of the largest election fraud attempts ever with these petitions:
Tallahassee Florida could be in the midst of one of the largest cases of election-related fraud in recent history. Across the state, elections supervisors say they have been sent thousands of fraudulent petition forms supporting a constitutional amendment to expand casino gaming in the state. Although the forms are supposed to reflect real Floridians voicing support for a change to the state’s Constitution, many include the names of dead people or the forged signatures of real voters.
The number of suspicious or hard-to-verify petitions has buried county elections supervisors and their staffs trying to sort through them. In one case, Marion County Supervisor of Elections Wesley Wilcox found both his and his wife’s signatures forged on petition forms.
Adding to the fraudulent claims is the fact that petition gathers are seemingly being paid per signature, which is illegal in Florida. The Miami-Herald continues:
Organizers for the Tribe have also alleged in court documents that organizers for Las Vegas Sands have been paying petition circulators based on the number of signatures they collect, which is a first-degree misdemeanor under state law punishable by up to a year in jail. They’ve produced contracts and affidavits from people who worked on the company’s petition drive.
One of those people signed an affidavit stating he was hired to gather signatures, and his contract stated he was paid $450,000 for every 25,000 petitions he submitted, up to $2.7 million. Another person, Larry Laws, was hired by a different company to produce signature-gatherers for the effort. His affidavit states that while the contracts stated that employees would be paid hourly, instead of per signature, petition circulators would also be paid a “bonus” of $2,500 for every 300 signatures, which was not in the contract.
For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION