Gambling buys politicians

I’m glad somebody besides me is starting to connect the dots, even though the proposed remedy is garbage.

Please read this article about a proposal from state senator Keith Faber (R-Celina) from The Daily Briefing section of The Columbus Dispatch.

There is finally an acknowledgment that the various gambling cartels (lottery vendors, casino tycoons, race track owners, off-track betting parlor operators, etc.) routinely buy up politicians.  It doesn’t matter whether you are Democrat, Republican, or even Libertarian, campaign money donated by gambling interests is shaping your political party and shaping Ohio’s elections.  For the most part, those politicians that are the most ethically-challenged are the ones that are able to retain office thanks to gambling contributions to political coffers.

So, if you, voters, would like to “clean house” of the corrupt rascals that reside in the halls of government, you’d do well to size up how politicians have aligned themselves on the issue of gambling.

Faber’s bill would limit contributions to candidates for state offices from the gambling industry to just $500.  This is well-intentioned, and shows, like I said, that someone besides me is connecting the dots, but this “remedy” would be a huge flop, much like McCain-Feingold in the federal campaign finance arena.  Just as there are gaping loopholes in McCain-Feingold that you can drive a truck through, Faber’s bill would be just as flimsy.

The Issue 3 crowd has the Fraternal Order of Police stumping for it.  Even if candidates could only accept $500 from the gambling industry, the FOP could leverage considerable influence in election races on behalf of the gambling industry.

So many officeholders of both major political parties favor one gambling faction or another (completely out of proportion to the allegiances of Ohio voters who’ve rejected the past four gambling issues that appeared on statewide ballots) that one ought to question whether the gambling industry already picks and chooses the frontrunners in primary contests.

Don’t believe me?  Please read this Mark Naymik article from the Plain Dealer (read the WHOLE THING), and ask yourself, what’s Bob Bennett doing, calling Republican operatives all over the state asking for support for Issue 3?  Are you starting to get the picture?  Is it dawning on you yet?  And what would Faber’s bill do to the flow of donations from the gambling industry to political parties?  It would increase it, since the direct flow to candidates, themselves, would be restricted.  This adds to the gambling industry’s leverage of party insiders who anoint and appoint.

But, like I said, this isn’t just a Republican Party phenomenon.  Read this article about interim Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce’s campaign from the Dayton Daily News.  The gambling industry, under Faber’s bill, would only be able to contribute $500 to the Boyce campaign, but Charlie Luken, former Democrat mayor of Cincinnati and current lobbyist for Key Bank who hosts fundraisers for Boyce, also happens to be a chairperson for the Issue 3 campaign.  Faber’s bill does nothing to address this.

Do you see the many tentacles extended just by one gambling faction, the cartel that is pushing Issue 3?

What if I started showing how far the tentacles of MTR, a rival gambling faction, stretched?  The spouse of Democrat Party chair Chris Redfern purportedly lobbies on behalf of MTR.  Strickland’s betrayal of his campaign pledges stand to benefit MTR as the vendor of the VLT slot machines that would be installed at racetracks on behalf of the Ohio Lottery.

Sandy Theis works as a spokesperson for both TruthPAC (mostly funded by MTR) and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.  When it came time to choose the pro and con arguments of Issue 3 that would be presented to Ohio voters, TruthPAC got the nod for the con side, while Ohio Roundtable, a truly anti-gambling organization, was shut out of the debate by Brunner.

MTR owns one of the Ohio horse tracks, and the horse track industry, in addition to it’s Democrat supporters, named above, has, in the past, also been backed by Republican heavy hitters like former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.  The bio of state representative Terry Blair (R-38) clearly places him in the horse track camp.

Let’s not forget past gambling issues, and who was involved in supporting those efforts, too.  Prominent Cuyahoga County Republican Jim Trakas was a backer for last year’s failed Issue 6.  In 2006, Ohio Chancellor and prominent Cuyahoga County Democrat Eric Fingerhut was ushering another Issue 3, “Ohio Learn and Earn,” to the ballot.

A complete and exhaustive list of which Ohio politicians are bankrolled by which gambling factions would be difficult to compile due to length (and also due to the fact that some politicians play their cards close to the vest, hiding the gambling allegiances they have).

Do you see how wide the gambling industry has spread their nets to reel in politicians?  Or do I have to keep connecting dots?

All of this leads to the question:  What is inherently wrong about government favoring gambling? This is a question Libertarians are prone to ask, but many Republicans and Democrats ask the same question.

Some long answers to that question, from the perspective that gambling shrinks the economy, can be found here, here, here, and here.

The short answer is that the ethically-challenged politicians charged with the task of being gambling’s gatekeepers are able to consolidate their power through gambling’s redistribution of wealth.  I’ll let this sign from the 9/12 rally in DC spell it out for you:


Remember that the gambling industry produces nothing. It exists just to plunder and redistribute wealth. The wealth is redistributed to help entrench the political status quo.

Also remember that just as we can’t tax our society into prosperity, we also can’t gamble our society into prosperity. Tax proceeds and gambling proceeds are used by elites for the same purposes: To consolidate, hold, and wield power and to subjugate the people.

Final question:  What do we do about it if Faber’s proposal won’t work?

We vote against Issue 3, we get a referendum for Strickland’s VLT plan on the ballot and vote that down.

We clamor for full transparency of political finances.  We inform voters.  We identify which politicians back gambling.  We recruit and support candidates who oppose gambling to challenge the candidates that back gambling.

Ideally, the state stops propping up the horsetracks and OTB parlors, allowing them to fail if they can’t remain profitable, and, finally, we put the Ohio Lottery, itself, back on the ballot for reconsideration, and urge voters to repeal it.

If we do these things, we will have empowered the people, toppled the status quo, improved the state’s economy, and put a huge dent in political corruption.