Category Archives: Political Contributions

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt Returns Political Contributions from Illegal Gambling Machine Manufacturers Owners Amid Controversy

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of Missouri’s illegal slot machine problem.  Gambling, specifically casino style slot machine gambling, is limited to state regulated casinos in Missouri, but that hasn’t stopped companies like Torch Electronics from placing thousands of illegal slot machines all over the state.  They have used many methods for keeping their illegal gambling machine operating, including taking advantage of enforcement loopholes where the state gaming commission cant regulate them and local law enforcement jurisdictions are left to clean up the illegal slot machines.  Other tactics include attempting to sue those prosecuting them  and political contributions in hopes of controlling the legislature or the courts.  Many have called for immediate state action to provide the proper enforcement tools for uniform restriction, confiscation and prosecution of those machines and the operators and manufactures.  Amid the controversy, some have been called out as possibly being put in a compromised situation due to political contributions, specifically Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.  The St Louis Post Dispatch reports:

Attorney General Eric Schmitt is returning campaign contributions he received more than two months ago from the owner of a controversial video gambling company and his wife.

Schmitt, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in 2022, received two $2,900 checks in June from Steven Miltenberger, owner of Wildwood-based Torch Electronics, and his spouse, Sondra Miltenberger.

Torch has been in court in recent months for allegedly operating thousands of illegal slot machines at gas stations across the state. The company also is suing the state, saying it is being unfairly harassed by the Missouri Highway Patrol.

The announcement that the money was being jettisoned came after the Post-Dispatch asked the attorney general’s office if the contribution could be considered a conflict of interest because of the state’s involvement in litigation against Miltenberger’s company.

“There was no violation of office policy, but out of an abundance of caution, it’s my understanding that the donation is going to be returned,” Schmitt spokesman Chris Nuelle said Friday. “We will remain active in our vigorous defense of the state’s interest in this case.”

A spokesman for Schmitt’s campaign confirmed the contributions have been returned.

Schmitt is among dozens of Missouri politicians who have received money connected to Miltenberger in recent years as unregulated slot machines have flooded the state.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Florida Gambling Mood Shifts as Casino Mogul Sheldon Adelson Sends Droves of Lobbyists: “Conservatives” Appear to be Buying In

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to expand gambling in Florida, typically with new full-sized, Vegas-sytle gambling casinos.  For the past few years, these efforts have been unsuccessful, despite many different avenues for making expansion a reality. As a new legislative session is soon to quickly move through its short cycle, the mood may be shifting.  The talks even a week ago had signaled that gambling expansion seemed a dead issue.  Then, billionaire casino operator Sheldon Adelson set his sights more firmly on Florida and he sent over a 100 lobbyist to convince lawmakers to expand.  Bloomberg online reports:

To bring Las Vegas-style gambling to Florida, casino operators like Sheldon Adelson are sending more than 100 lobbyists to the state Capitol to battle their biggest adversary: Mickey Mouse.

The clash pits casino operators Genting Bhd. (GENT) and Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) , controlled by billionaire Adelson, against Walt Disney Co. (DIS), which runs theme parks and resorts near Orlando, and may face new competition for convention business. Companies on both sides of the dispute are sending lobbyists and campaign checks to Florida lawmakers, who say they’ll consider expanding gambling this year.

Disney argues gambling would hurt the state.  “The massive expansion of gambling that would come from legalizing mega-casinos would be a bad bet for Florida’s taxpayers, tourism brand and existing businesses,” said Andrea Finger, a Disney spokeswoman, in a statement.

In a legislature controlled by Republicans, many have sought to voice moral opposition to gambling while also keeping the door open to expansion proposals.

The goal is to protect Florida’s “family-friendly” image, said Hart. Disney, which is a top contributor to the Chamber’s political committee and has a seat on the board, has made similar arguments to lawmakers.

So are these new lobbyist efforts actually working?  It would appear so.  The mood has clearly shifted to expanding gambling, Conservative leadership has gone from a position of no expansion, to expansion with various conditions.  The Tampa Bay Times explains:

After years of resistance, the conservative leadership of the Florida House has signaled its willingness to pass legislation that would expand gambling in Florida to include new Las Vegas-style casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward in exchange for a constitutional amendment that requires voters to approve any future games.

“I would be willing to talk about gaming in the State of Florida, even expansion, in return for contraction in some areas and passing a constitutional amendment,” House Speaker Will Weatherford said in an exclusive interview with the Times/Herald on Tuesday.

Because the speaker dictates the agenda and controls which bills get a priority, Weatherford’s statement Tuesday breathes new life into an issue that appeared to be stalled for another year.

It also guarantees that legislators have more time to solicit campaign contributions to their political committees from multinational casino giants as well as the Florida horse tracks, dog tracks and jai alai frontons that want their own casinos.

“The fact this is an issue being discussed by the Legislature at all is a testament to the political influence of the gambling industry,” said John Sowinski, president of the Orlando-based No Casinos.

He said the discussion ignores the findings of Spectrum Gaming Group, which the Legislature paid $400,000 to analyze new gambling’s impact on the Florida economy. It found that gambling would continue to expand and that the state’s economy is so big that casinos would have little state impact.

“Never has so much intellectual energy been spent on an issue for which there is so little public appetite,” Sowinski said.

Its hard to imagine that lawmakers that call themselves conservative and dedicated to serving their constituents can even consider expanding   gambling when they know full well what the consequences will be. They are willing to encourage their friends and neighbors to become losers so the casinos and State can be winners.  This is a terrible trade off and its even more disheartening to see such a swift change in position simply because more money is being thrown at the situation by lobbyists and political campaign contributions. 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Disney Firm Against Gambling Despite Efforts to “Out” Them as Gambling Hypocrites

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on Disney’s support of family values and their opposition to gambling.  As major battles over gambling expansion unfold, Disney has actively stood firm against expansion in Florida and offered a wide range of support to those who oppose.  In an effort to attempt to smear Disney’s image and appear to be hypocritical in their opposition, the New York Times attempted to out Disney claiming they have ties to gambling. The Sunshine State News explains:

Hard to believe for-families Disney could be profiting from casinos, but the New York Times posted a story late Saturday that lays out the “family entertainment” giant’s connection to gambling.

It seems some of the profits from licensing the Amazing Spider-Man and Iron Man slot games you see in casinos across the world come back to Florida’s biggest anti-gambling entity.

In “Gambling Debate Entangles Disney in Florida,” Times writers Lizette Alvarez and Michael Snyder explain that Disney’s piece of the action began in 2009, when it purchased Marvel, its characters and operations. Turns out Marvel has copious licensing arrangements with gambling products, from slot machines to online games to lottery tickets.

At present, Disney-owned Marvel has licensing deals with slot-game makers around the world, with character machines in casinos in Macau, Brisbane, Brussels, Capetown — even Florida.

Disney’s position has remained firm against gambling and they clearly explained that it was their purchase of Marvel that created the connection. They have clearly stated that they have no intention to renew any licensing deals and that once the existing contracts expire, no further link will exist.  The Sunshine State continues:

Disney claims its gambling association was unwanted and just came with the deal when it bought Marvel Comics for $4.4 billion on Aug. 31, 2009.

Said the Times, “Asked whether Disney’s ties to the gaming industry, through Marvel, undercut its position on casino gambling, a Marvel spokeswoman said last week that the company planned to shed its connection to slot machines when the various licensing agreements expire. On Saturday, the spokeswoman added that Marvel had signed its last slot machine deal.” It will take a few years for all contracts to expire, the spokeswoman said.

When Sunshine State News asked No Casinos spokesman Michael Murphy in September to explain how the anti-gambling group justifies Disney’s licensing presence in hundreds of casinos, he said, “From a No Casinos standpoint, it’s been widely reported that the Marvel character images were purchased by Disney long after they were licensed by the previous owners to the purveyors of those games.”

Such tactics should probably be expected when a much beloved and influential group like Disney stands up for families and stands in the way of gambling expiation.  The issue of destination casinos in Florida is far from over, but Disney’s opposition to gambling is not.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

UPDATE: Florida Mega-Casino Ballot Initiative Likely to Reach Voters

Casino Watch Focus reported that those behind the push for mega-resort casinos in Florida faced defeat in the Florida Legislature.  As a result, they have proposed the idea of gathering signatures and placing the issue on the ballot in 2014. The Genting group formed “New Jobs and Revenues for Florida.”  Despite claims that the group’s intentions are benign and simply investigating job creation, new evidence reported by Naples News Online, paints a very different picture:

Created in April, “New Jobs and Revenues for Florida” has already spent nearly $600,000 toward what appears to be an effort to put an initiative before voters, according to campaign finance records filed with state election officials that were made public Friday.

A list of expenditures filed with state election officials gives a relatively clear picture. Most notably, National Voter Outreach, a Nevada-based petition gatherer, was paid $50,000.

“National Voter Outreach is a political consulting firm specializing in organizing signature drives to qualify issues and candidates for the ballot,” the company says on its website.

Another $150,000 has been paid to Fort Lauderdale Attorney Bruce Rogow for consulting and legal services. Rogow, a high profile appellate lawyer, has argued a number of cases before the state Supreme Court, which would have to approve any ballot language. 

A closer look at additional connections further reveals that the Genting Group is investing heavily in a ballot initiative to attempt to divert the Florida Legislature.  The Naples News continues:

The group’s major initial expenditures also include $350,000 to Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates, an Alexandria, Va.- based media and campaign consulting group with strong ties to Republicans including Gov. Rick Scott.

“There are some obvious experts that are listed there,” said Brian Hughes, a spokesman for the group. “The key now is for the committee to determine which path forward makes sense.”

The group is backed almost exclusively by companies affiliated with mega-resort developer, Malaysian-based Genting Group. Together the Bayfront 2011 Development and Resorts Word have anted up $605,500.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Terrell Ownens, Santana Moss and 23 other players are under investigation for violating NFL gaming operation rules

Casino Watch Focus has reported numerous times on the NFL’s anti-gambling position.  The organization doesn’t like gambling on its sport because they know from other sports the propensity for corruption, game fixing and the devastating trail that can be left behind in gambling’s wake. They also have rules in place to prevent players from being involved with any gaming operation.  It’s too easy for the reputation of the NFL to be tarnished if someone is involved in a major gambling scandal.  An online source is reporting that one of those major gambling stories that is likely to reflect negatively on the NFL is making headlines as star NFL players have gotten involved in the wrong gambling business venture:

The NFL is investigating the reported investment by at least 25 NFL players in an Alabama casino that has been shut down, a business venture that might have run afoul of league rules. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed the investigation Friday, a day after Yahoo! Sports reported that wide receivers Terrell Owens, Santonio Holmes, Santana Moss and other players had invested some $20 million in Country Crossing casino. The report also named defensive tackle Gerard Warren and linebacker Adalius Thomas, a free agent who played for the New England Patriots until his release before last season.

The Players involved could face severe fines or even suspension for their involvement.  The Alabama casino in question has been a major source of investigation, as key operators have pleaded guilty to offering millions in bribes.  The Bradenton Online continues:

Country Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley and two of his lobbyists have pleaded guilty to offering legislators millions in bribes. Country Crossing and another Alabama casino are at the center of a probe that resulted in nine people going to trial accused of buying and selling votes on pro-gambling legislation, including four former or current state senators. State police raids and court rulings closed the two bigger casinos and other gambling operations around the state. Yahoo! Sports said boxer Floyd Mayweather was an early investor who is trying to get his money back. Former NFL players Cornelius Griffin and Jevon Kearse also have put in money, the report said.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

** ALERT ** Senate Leader Harry Reid is attempting to legalize internet gambling

Casino Watch Focus reported that with the midterm elections swinging the balance of power back to the republicans, Rep. Barney Frank’s bill to legalize Internet gambling was essentially dead in the water. The Wall Street Journal reported that Senate Leader Harry Reid will pick up where Rep. Frank left off in an attempt to make good on those who helped financially pave the way for his recent election:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s year-end to-do list includes top priorities for the constituencies that helped him eke out a narrow victory last month over former Nevada state legislator Sharron Angle.

Gambling interests and casino executives gave the senator more than $700,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, ranking fifth among all industry contributors. His biggest single benefactor: MGM Resorts International, whose executives and political action committee gave Mr. Reid more than $190,000 in combined campaign donations, according to the same data. Harrah’s Entertainment ranked fourth, with more than $83,000 in campaign contributions.

Senate Leader Reid is proposing a bill to repeal the ban on internet gambling and it ensures that casinos and horse tracks have the right to exclusively operate online gambling sites for the next two years. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Senate Leader Reid is considering attaching his bill to “must-pass legislation” before the end of the legislative session:

Several other people lobbying for the bill said they believe Mr. Reid may still try to get it attached to must-pass legislation. “Until Congress adjourns I am not saying it’s dead,” said John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance.

Mr. Reid’s idea of moving an online poker bill that would heavily favor Nevada casino companies  has stirred up a tempest in Congress’s final days. While investors in casinos and slot machines grew excited, several Republican lawmakers disparaged the legislation as preying on “the weak and the vulnerable.”

Now, an online source is reporting that Senator Reid has decided to leave the tax extension bill alone and will instead use a spending bill that could pass to push his legislation.  For more information including urgent action steps, please visit the Casino Watch Internet Gambling Alert page here or at:

And for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Just How did the gambling industry influenced FL’s recent gambling expansion ?

Casino Watch Focus previously reported that the Florida legislature passed a massive new gambling expansion compact with the Seminole Tribe.  It was also reported that non-tribal facilities would be expanding as well, through higher betting limits, longer hours of operation, and access to ATM machines on gambling floors.  Such attempts have failed time and time again, so why was the gambling industy so successful during this past legislative session?  A online source has a pretty good answer why:

The Seminole Indian Tribe and related businesses made $720,000 in political contributions in 2008—more than their giving in the previous 10 years combined and three times as much as that given in the 2006 election cycle.

Is it merely coincidental the previously gambling-expansion-skeptical Florida House of Representatives saw things differently during the 2009 legislative session and approved a gambling compact with the Seminoles resulting in the largest expansion of gambling in the history of the state?…

“In total, companies involved with gaming and racing gave $3 million to legislative candidates and party committees in 2008. Florida ranked sixth in the nation for gaming contributions,” the Institute’s report notes.

For the full article and a more comprehensive breakdown of the contributions, click HERE

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Turner Report: New Gaming Commission Director has long ties to gambling industry

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon appointed Jim Mathewson as the new Missouri Gaming Commission Director.  Mathewson, a Democrate, served in the State Senate from 1980 to 2006.  The Turner Report is explaining that Mathewson has ties to the gambling industry that go back to 2002, when pushed a bill to remove the $500 loss limit, on top of receiving more than two-thirds of his campaign contributions from gambling interest:

Mathewson’s 2002 reports filed with the Ethics Commission show he received $15,800 in contributions. Of that amount, $11,124 either came directly from casino interests or can be connected to a gambling industry lobbyist.

The October 2002 report shows Mathewson receiving $9,225 in contributions, with $5,475 coming from gambling interests. The contributions include

Isle of Capri $350
Isle of Capri-Boonville $575
Harrah’s Operating Company $575
Isle of Capri Casino-Kansas City $350
Ameristar Casino-Kansas City $1,000
Missouri Gaming Company, Argosy Casino $1,175
St. Joseph Riverboat Partners/Frontier Casino $587.50
Ameristar Casino-St. Charles $725
Mark Twain Casino LLC, $587.50
Aztar Missouri Riverboat Gaming Company, $500

To Read the Complete Turner Report Click Here

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Details of FBI wiretaps on Impeached Blagojevich’s alleged gambling related “pay to play” policy released

Casino Watch Focus has reported that the “pay to play” allegations of now Impeached Gov Blagojevich were centered around gambling.  Now, The Kansas City Star has reported on the content of the FBI wiretaps that lead to Blagojevich’s impeachment:

[I]mpeachment jurors were able to listen to FBI wiretaps of conversations in which he seems to demand campaign contributions in exchange for signing legislation.

One person on the recordings assures Blagojevich that a horse-racing track owner “is good for it” and just has to decide “what accounts to get it out of.” Another assures him the track owner knows he must keep his “commitment” soon.

Blagojevich replies with comments such as “good” and “good job.” Legislation sought by the racing industry had been sent to the governor’s desk, and on the tapes, he says to reassure a racing lobbyist he hopes “to do this so we can get together and start picking some dates to do a bill-signing.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Horse racing Bill part of Blagojevich’s alleged “pay to play” policy

As we all know, Gov Rod Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges and then later impeached and removed from service.  What many people may not be aware of however, is how gambling has lead to these allegations.  The Olympian, a local Washington paper, has explained how gambling is behind the alleged “pay to play” actions which have lead to the impeachment of Blagojevic:

A 76-page FBI affidavit released Tuesday reported that wiretaps captured recent telephone conversations Blagojevich had with fundraisers and lobbyists. According to the affidavit, phone calls recorded Nov. 13 and Dec. 3 revealed that a lobbyist told Blagojevich that a contributor needed to make a contribution before questions were raised over the timing of the contribution and the governor signing a bill that would benefit the contributor.

That bill is believed to be the one that would pump millions into the state horse racing industry. The legislation passed the Illinois House and Senate two weeks ago and has been sitting on Blagojevich’s desk, awaiting his signature.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Blagojevich’s financial advisor pleads guilty to gambling related corruption

Casino Watch Focus originally reported on the relationship between Impeached Gov Blogojevich and his fundraiser and chief financial advisor, Chris Kelly. The Kansas City Star has reported that Chris Kelly has pleaded guilty to those corruptions charges:

Impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s former chief fundraiser has admitted he illegally used corporate funds to pay gambling debts and personal expenses.  Christopher G. Kelly also pleaded guilty on Friday to illegally structuring financial transactions in an effort to hide them from the federal government. The indictment against him did not touch on politics.

Kelly is a roofing contractor and consultant. He has helped to raise millions of dollars for Blagojevich’s campaign and he could give federal prosecutors an inside look at the workings of the governor’s administration.  Blagojevich has been charged with using his position to get personal and professional favors, including trying to sell off the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

How gambling seed money elected and controlled an impeached Gov Rod Blagojevich

I suppose people have come to expect a certain degree of corrupt political behavior from the Chicago Political Machine, but few realize just how much influence gambling has on Chicago corruptions.  The Sun Times does a great job connecting the dots by explaining Blagojevich’s connection to a man named Chris Kelly:

Kelly had been finance director of Blagojevich’s successful campaign — the main man helping raise the money that allowed the then-Northwest Side congressman to end a quarter century of Republican control of the governor’s office.

In the early days, Blagojevich made Kelly an unpaid adviser in his administration, his influence so blatant that legislators made him file an official economic-disclosure statement as a “special government agent.”

So Chris Kelly was seen as the man who raised the money that elected Blagojevich and then influenced his policy.  Blogojevich officially assigned Kelly to advise on gambling and The Kansas City Star reported that Kelly was later charged with gambling related fraud:

The federal indictment says Christopher G. Kelly, 49, placed millions of dollars in wagers with a bookie in Chicago and casinos in Las Vegas, then paid the debts out of corporate funds from his business, portraying the payments as legitimate business expenses. He also is accused of hiding $1.3 million in taxable income.

The Sun Times further explained:

The man Blagojevich entrusted to represent him on gambling issues was a high-roller in hock to a mob bookie…In the two years he filed public ethics statements, Kelly disclosed receiving unspecified “gifts of personal friendship” from Rezko and Blagojevich and said he’d provided them “similar gifts of personal friendship” as well.

Add to that the fact that Blagojevich himself was an alleged bookie and received political contributions directly from Illinois casinos, and the influence of gambling becomes crystal clear.  Too often people say that gambling doesn’t hurt anybody, and as long as they don’t go gamble, they are not being influenced.  But gambling can corrupt the very people who influence our lives on a daily basis – no one is immune from its impact.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH

The Casinos Spent over $12 million Out of State for ‘Yes on A’ campaign instead of investing the money in Missouri Companies

The casinos have long claimed that they invest in our communities and help stimulate our economy.  But reports from the ethics commission reveal that 82% of the Yes on A spending went out of state.  Very little was spent in the state as $12,380,082 were sent out of state.  The biggest recipient was the Hollywood CA company they hired to run the strategy and commercials for their deceptive campaign –  Winner & Mandabach received $9,162,281.   A Seattle WA printing company received $2,056,922, National Petition Management in Michigan received almost a million dollars and they spend almost $200,000 in other miscellaneous charges out of the state.

The only real spending in the state was to a few PR firms, their spokespersons, and the law enforcement
and teachers they paid to endorse Prop A.  The casinos could even buy there promotional t-shirts here in Missouri; they paid the Las Vegas company Eagle Promotions over $30,000 for their shirts.

These spending habits are simply a microcosm of how the casinos do business.  Casinos don’t help our economy.  They take money away from small business and restaurants all around the state and instead of that money being reinvested in our community, its get shipped out to Las Vegas.  This information and more can be found in our Policy Brief entitled “Expanded Gambling & the Loss Limit: How its removal will impact Missouri”

Please vote NO on Proposition A, and tell everyone you know to visit

Current Highway Patrol Capt: “Taking Away the Players Card Takes Away a Great Enforcement Tool”

Highway Patrol Captain Lester Elder is the supervisor of the 100 plus troopers in the gaming enforcement division, and he has a unique prospective on the $500 loss limit.  In a recent newspaper interview he explained that The Patrol doesn’t take official stands on election issues.  However, he was very open about the value of the player’s cards and the effects of removing the kinds of mandatory identification requirements that Proposition A removes.

When asked about the Highway Patrols ability to solve 95.8 percent of almost 1,700 crimes at the casinos, Capt. Elder said there is something to be said for he status quo:

“We have a good case solvability rate,” he said. “We do utilize the Player’s Card for identification of criminals when that situation arises. That’s not something we access on non-criminal issues, but if there’s an assault or a theft or some crime that occurs, we’re able to identify on that casino floor who that person said they were when they came in to get their Player’s Card.

“There are always thoughts that if the loss limit’s not there (then) there may be your larger criminals coming in because there’s more opportunity for them to gain more money by cheating at gambling. I don’t know. We’re going to have to wait and see.

Proponents of Proposition A claim that they are unnecessary and have even provided retired Officer Larry Buschjost with over $13,000 in an attempt to undermine the Highway Patrol’s facts.  But the unpaid, and current highway Patrol Captain disagreed:

“Obviously there’s video of everything that occurs on the casino floor. Video is great, but when you couple that with the Player’s Card, not only do you have a video but now you also have a possible identity of a person. Without that possible identity via the Player’s Card then, sure, you take away a large tool for criminal enforcement.”

If the Player’s Card/loss limit distinction is eliminated from the equation by means of a yes vote on Nov. 4, Elder said he and his troopers will still try to maintain their current high standard of effectiveness.

“We’re going to do the most professional job we can do with the tools that we’re given,” he said. “Any time we investigate a crime, you can rest assured the Highway Patrol is going to devote its best resources to do that—to be able to try to solve that, to protect the citizens of the state. Now taking away the Player’s Card, does that take away a great enforcement tool? Yes, it does.”

Please don’t put our families at risk or put our law enforcement in a situation where they have fewer tools to keep Missouri safe: Vote No on Proposition A

Yes on A campaign paid retired Patrol Captain $12,000 in an attempt to undermine facts from current Highway Patrol

(Oct 31, 2008)  ST LOUIS – According to Missouri ethics reports, the Yes on A coalition has paid retired Highway Patrol Captain Larry Buschjost $12,000 plus $1,668 for expenses.

The Yes on A coalition faces opposition from the campaign as they released figures from the current Missouri State Highway Patrol.  Those statistics indicate the Highway Patrol was able to solve 95.8% of almost 1,700 crimes at the casinos last year alone, because of the player’s cards which Proposition A would do away with.

The Highway Patrol distributed those statistics at the State Capitol during this year’s legislative session in an effort to urge lawmakers to keep the player tracking cards.

Examples of crimes solved include: 303 crimes involving theft or stealing, 215 crimes involving ID theft, forgery and counterfeiting, 29 crimes involving sex offenses, drugs, assaults.  They also apprehended illegal aliens, bank robbers, a child sex offender, a rapist, and a murder suspect.

Evelio Silvera, spokesperson for the campaign said he is not surprised they paid a retired officer in attempts to refute the damaging facts being released by the current Highway Patrol.

“The casinos have spent over $15 million dollars in an attempt to buy a law that benefits their bottom line.  It comes as no surprise that they have paid retired law enforcement in a desperate attempt to undermine the damaging evidence from our current law enforcement officials.” Silvera said.

Current Highway Patrol Captain Lester Elder is the supervisor of the 100 plus troopers in the gaming enforcement division, and he recently explained in an interview that the Patrol doesn’t take official stands on election issues.  However, he was very open about the value of the player’s cards and the effects of removing the kinds of mandatory identification requirements that Proposition A removes.

“We’re going to do the most professional job we can do with the tools that we’re given,” he said. “Now taking away the Player’s Card, does that take away a great enforcement tool? Yes, it does.”

Larry Buschjost, the paid law enforcement official, has argued that good police work could solve those crimes and that the removal of the players cards would have little to no impact.

Captain Elder disagrees.  “Obviously there’s video of everything that occurs on the casino floor. Video is great, but when you couple that with the Player’s Card, not only do you have a video but now you also have a possible identity of a person. Without that possible identity via the Player’s Card then, sure, you take away a large tool for criminal enforcement.”

Related Information:
Missouri Highway Patrol  – Facts and Figures (2 pages)

Yes on A coalition  – Ethics Commission Report