Friday, July 28, 2023

Maybe Not Illegal But Certainly Corrupt


Two investigative reporters for Carolina Public Press, Mehr Sher and Grace Vitaglione, published a shocking/not at all surprising piece last Tuesday which found that "Campaign committees of at least eight lawmakers received a total of $34,400 from at least four donors linked to The Cordish Cos. from November 2022 to March 2023."

So what? The what is that The Cordish Cos. runs gambling casinos and is pushing for three new casinos for Rockingham, Anson, and Nash counties. You won't be surprised that the Republicans in the General Assembly, at least eight of them greased with campaign cash, are falling all over themselves to deliver. There's actually a "draft bill" making the rounds.

Who got the money?

Phil Berger
Phil Berger, President Pro Tem of the NC Senate who represents Rockingham (yeah, baby!), got $5,600, which was the max allowed at the time of the gift, Nov. 2022

Sen. Lisa Barnes, who represents Nash Co., also got $5,600

Rep. John Bell in the House, who's also Majority Leader, got $5,600

Rep. Jason Saine, who's also senior chair of the Appropriations Committee, got $5,600

Sen. David Craven, who represents part of Anson, got $2,500

Rep. Kyle Hall, another chair of an Appropriations subcommittee, got $2,500

Rep. Larry Strickland, another chair of an Appropriations subcommittee, got $2,500

Sen. Todd Johnson, a chair for a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, got $2,500

A single Democrat, Rep. Kathy Manning, shows up in the list: "Jon Cordish gave $2,000 to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Political Action Committee and earmarked the funds for U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning, D-6th District. Earmarking funds allows the PAC to act as a conduit for the donation." Manning's 6th Dist. includes Rockingham.

With watchdogs beginning to bark -- notably Bob Hall, the former executive director of Democracy NC, -- the legislators and others are talking up the economic benefits of gambling casinos to Rockingham, Anson, and Nash counties, some of the poorest in the state. But there are verifiable statistics and studies that show that the coming of legal gambling to an economically distressed area further impoverishes local residents, who are more likely to take up habitual gambling when it's that accessible. And didn't anyone watch Ozark?

“It’s a pay-to-play scheme, and the system itself is corrupt,” said Hall. “They put a lot of money behind their requests to get attention and overcome the hesitation of legislators,” he said, referring to businesses and companies who make campaign contributions. “That corrupting dynamic leads the leadership into compromising and bringing proposals to the members of their caucus.”

Do you need that explanation to know this stinks?

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