Instant Racing Article 8-2009

August 2009

A legacy of manipulations before expanded gambling even gets here

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a chronological overview of what HAS BEEN and IS happening within the upper echelon of state government.  With this simple time line, the serious control being exerted through elected officials by those pushing casinos and casino-like gambling becomes manifest.

200908 OFebruary 2007 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear announces his advocacy for casinos.

April 2007 State Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Miller ends his primary campaign, endorses pro-casino candidate Beshear, and days later flies to Las Vegas for what he terms “personal business meetings.” Beshear appoints Miller to be Democratic Party Chairman.

2007 Candidate Beshear raises $7 million for his campaign, including huge sums from casino advocates.

2007 Casino interests contribute $489,500 to the Democratic Party’s Kentucky Victory Fund.

2007Beshear supporter forms Bluegrass Freedom Fund, raises $3.15 million to finance advertisements attacking Beshear’s opponent and calling ostensibly for governmental “ethics reform.” Over $2.2 million of the “ethics reform” fund came from casino supporters, including $1 million from one person – Bill Yung, a casino company CEO who recently lost his New Jersey license and was sued by investors for reckless management.

November 2007 Beshear wins election and proclaims casinos can produce $500 million in new taxes but his claim is unsubstantiated except by casino advocates.

December 2007 Several pro-casino individuals, including casino owners who have lost their operating licenses in two states, make $10,000 donations to Gov. Beshear’s $766,000 inauguration celebration fund.

December 18, 2007 Anti-gambling and freshman State Representative Brandon Spencer (D-Prestonsburg) suddenly and unexpectedly resigns just weeks before the beginning of the 2008 General Assembly in the first week of January.  This resignation leads to Gov. Beshear calling a Special Election on Feb.5 for House District 95.  One of the state’s most aggressive supporters of casino gambling is elected, former House Majority Leader and former Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo.

January 2008 Gov. Beshear releases his state budget proposal, calling for government agency funding cuts, suggesting casinos could provide new tax dollars.

January 2008 Gov. Beshear repeats his projection that casinos will raise $500 million in tax revenue, but is contradicted by a legislative study that projects only $300 million.

January 2008 Gov. Beshear hand-picks a pro-casino candidate to replace his running mate, newly elected Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, in the State Senate.  Roger Noe, the locally favored candidate and former legislator who was rejected by Beshear, goes public in a letter to the editor of his local newspaper before the special election, writing “They . . . are strong arming public officials for support in furthering their dishonest agenda.” The Governor’s candidate loses the election to the anti-gambling expansion candidate. A Special Election for Senate District 30 is held on Feb. 5 and the Republican nominee, Brandon Smith upsets the Governor’s choice.  Not surprising, the primary public issue of the campaign was expanded gambling.

February 2008 Bill Yung, the casino CEO who contributed $1 million to Bluegrass Freedom Fund, acquires northern Kentucky commercial property and states his expectations to compete for a gambling license.

February 2008 Gov. Beshear suggests sales of casino licenses could produce “several hundred million dollars” in revenue during the current budget cycle.

February 14, 2008Gov. Beshear announces massive 12-casino plan that is far larger than he had ever discussed.  It includes casinos at race tracks and free-standing casinos as well.

February 26,  2008 The House Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee meets to consider and presumably pass the “Casino Amendment,” but there are several votes on different versions of the bill and all fail.  The committee members are in disarray and an abrupt vote is taken to adjourn. Later that day Rep. Dottie Sims is removed from the committee by the Speaker of the House because she voted contrary to his preferred version of the amendment.  She is replaced by two pro-casino members and the amendment passes favorably out of committee the next day.

March 3, 2008 Newspapers and state blogs report missing Capitol visit sign-in logs that indicate that casino CEO Bill Yung had met with the Governor in early January even though the Governor denies such a meeting.

April 2008 The casino legislation dies because of lack of support by House members. (To prevent embarrassment, it is never brought to the House floor for a vote.)

January 9, 2009 Speaker Greg Stumbo announces plans to run a non-constitutional amendment that will authorize slots at the race tracks under the Kentucky Lottery.  He is the only (former) Attorney General that has ever opined that a constitutional amendment is not needed.

February 3, 2009 To pass his slots initiative, the media reports that Stumbo consults with former Rep. Jerry Bronger (D-Louisville), who went to prison for taking gambling-related bribes in the 1990s’ Operation BOPTROT scandal.  Bronger pleaded guilty in 1992 to taking $2000 in bribes from lobbyist Bill McBee regarding a racetrack gambling bill.

February 12, 2009 House Bill 158, Stumbo’s bill, passes its House Committee unanimously BUT IT NEVER MOVES!  Observers believe that since an odd-year short Session of the General Assembly requires 3/5 majority to pass a revenue bill and everyone knew there were not 60 votes in the House to pass HB 158, a summer Special Session was planned and manipulated from the beginning of 2009.

March 2009 The 2009 Session closes without a gambling bill passed . . . and without several bills that were ready to be passed on that last day.  The House simply refuses to act.

April thru early June 2009 The horse lobby initiates major media as well as news campaign arguing that much of the horse industry will leave the state if it doesn’t get relief.

April thru early June 2009 The Governor’s office initiates major campaign saying the state will experience an almost $1 billion shortfall if it does not get relief.

May 29, 2009 Gov. Beshear announces plans for a Special Session beginning June 15.

June 3, 2009 The Governor makes official call for the Special Session for topics dropped at regular Session end.

June 4, 2009 The Governor adds gambling to the call of the Special Session.

June 15, 2009 House Bill 2, sponsored by Speaker Stumbo, is introduced on the first day of the Special Session.

June 15, 2009 Attorney General Jack Conway, having been asked on May 18 for an opinion as to whether slots-at-the-tracks can be implemented without a constitutional amendment (without the people’s final ratification), announces his perspective.  So, on the first day of the Special Session (just four weeks after the request), Conway, whose office maintained that he had six months (until October) to respond, “surprisingly” announces his opinion he agrees with the only other Attorney General’s opinion that says it’s “Okay” to pass slots as a simple statute – Greg Stumbo’s 2005 opinion.  All other Attorneys General had concluded a constitutional amendment was needed.  Important point: As it turns out, Stumbo is the highest-ranking Democrat endorsing Conway in his 2010 run for the U.S. Senate.

June 16, 2009 House Bill 2 does not receive the support it needs from legislators in the House so a $1.3 billion school spending program is announced to secure more votes.  Rep. Johnny Bell (D-Glasgow) says, “But I found out today we change the rules in midstream, and if a person is not able to vote for the gambling issue, then their school won’t be built.”  (Note the irony – the Session is called because of an almost $1 billion budget shortfall and yet the gambling bill is promoted by the spending of another $1.3 billion.)

June 19, 2009 HB 2 barely clears the House in a 52-45 vote. (51 votes were needed.)

June 22, 2009 HB 2 fails in a Senate Committee in a 10-5 vote.  Pro-gambling House leaders cry foul.

July 10, 2009 Rumors from Frankfort say Sen. Charlie Borders (R-Grayson) will be offered a state job by the Governor.  Observers believe it is because of his anti-gambling vote and the Governor’s plan to change the Senate so he can have control.

July 15, 2009 Sen. Borders resigns. The Governor arranges a quick election cycle so, according to observers, his Party can control the outcome.  The election date is set for August 25 – leaving less than six weeks lead time.

Borders would be replaced by a pro-gambling Democrat.  Beshear would offer a judgeship to another Republican senator who would also leave.  In the ensuing special election for that seat, after record amounts of money had been spent, an anti-gambling Republican won the seat.  This ended the Governor’s legislative efforts for a time and he turned his attention to a judicial solution in 2010 – Instant Racing by court order.


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