Instant Racing Article 2-2012

February 2012

All three branches of state government are being corrupted by the gambling efforts.

It began in the Executive Branch, moved into the Legislative Branch and has even reached the Judicial Branch with the effort to rule that “Instant Racing” is a live, pari-mutuel horse race. Sometimes the branches work together, but now always with gambling’s guiding hand.

The Executive Branch

Editor’s Note: Because the three branches of government often work closely together, it is sometimes difficult to separate the initiatives emanating from any particular one.

201202 D3February 2007 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear announces his advocacy for casinos and then a series of interesting events regarding money and his leading opponent took place. In April, 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. Beshear goes on to raise $7 million for his campaign, including huge sums from casino advocates.  In addition, casino interests contribute $489,500 to the Democratic Party’s Kentucky Victory Fund, and the Bluegrass Freedom Fund raises $3.15 million to finance advertisements attacking Beshear’s opponent and calling for “ethics reform.” Over $2.2 million of this “ethics reform” fund came from casino supporters, including $1 million from one person – Bill Yung, a casino CEO who lost his New Jersey casino license, had been sued by investors there for reckless management, but who wanted to open a casino in Kentucky.

June 15, 2009 A Special Session opens with this manipulative background: With the Governor’s Constitutional Amendment to authorize gambling failing to pass the House in 2008, he abandoned his promised Amendment approach and pushed a simple statute in 2009.  Why?  Because a statute only requires 51 percent of the vote in each Chamber rather than the super-majority of 60 percent for an Amendment.  However, because gambling is “revenue enhancing” legislation and 2009 was a “Short Session” of the General Assembly, by rule 60 percent is still required.  So, on Feb. 12, 2009, when the gambling statute passes its committee unanimously, it is simply parked until the Session is over.  Several other key bills are deliberately delayed in order to give cover for the Governor to call a Special Session later that year.  (Special Sessions do not require a 60 percent super-majority for revenue bills.)  No reports of this manipulation appear in the news so the June 15 Special Session begins with several issues to consider, including the gambling expansion statute.  What others are not aware of is that another component of the Executive Branch, the Attorney General’s office, is also working to make gambling legal.  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 voting for final ratification), releases his opinion on the first day of the Special Session – June 15.  This is just four weeks after the request for an opinion. Conway, whose office had maintained that he had six months (until October) to respond, “surprisingly” announces his opinion in which 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.  When the Conway opinion comes out, it set the stage for what looked like a gambling expansion slam dunk.  It is also important to note that Stumbo was the highest-ranking Democrat endorsing Conway in his 2010 bid for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Jim Bunning. 

July 10, 2009 After the Governor’s Special Session does not produce gambling for Kentucky, rumors in Frankfort say the Governor will use the power of his office to offer a lucrative state job to Sen. Charlie Borders (R-Grayson).  Observers believe it is because of his anti-gambling vote and the Governor’s plan to change the Senate so he can have control. Sen. Borders resigns on July 15, the Governor uses the power and 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.  On Aug. 25, the Republican is replaced by Democrat Robin Webb.  Governor Beshear used the same strategy in December of 2009 but this time the strategy backfires and an anti-gambling expansion, Republican captures the seat of Sen. Dan Kelly (R-Springfield), who had been offered and who received a judgeship from the Governor.

January 2010 After losing all his legislative manipulations to expand gambling, the Governor places gambling revenue into his 2010 budget, only to have both the Speaker of the House and the Senate President refuse to force gambling into the state.

The Legislative Branch

201202 D1December 18, 2007 Shortly after Gov. Beshear is inaugurated, anti-gambling and freshman State Representative Brandon Spencer (D-Prestonsburg) suddenly and unexpectedly resigns just weeks before the beginning of the 2008 General Assembly.  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 handpicks 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, “I still believe in Democratic principles, but I am disappointed to have to say that I have no faith in our current Kentucky Democratic leadership. They have insulted the intelligence of the Democrats in our counties, and are strong arming public officials for support in furthering their dishonest agenda.  We Democrats were deceived by Beshear/Mongiardo, and the rest of the state should be prepared for the same treatment.” 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 26, 2008 The House Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee meets to consider and presumably pass the “Casino Amendment,” but there are several votes on the three 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 (D-Horse Cave) 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. The amendment passes favorably out of committee the next day only to die later in the Session for lack of 60 votes in the House.

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.  This is a simple statute requiring only 51 percent of the votes to pass and it would not allow Kentucky citizens to ratify or reject the proposal. At that time, he is the only (former) Attorney General that had ever opined that a constitutional amendment is not needed to expand gambling in Kentucky.

February 3, 2009 To pass his slots initiative House Bill 158, 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!  Since an odd-year Short Session of the General Assembly requires 3/5 majority to pass a revenue enhancing bill and 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.

April thru June 2009 The 2009 Session closes without a gambling bill passed.  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.  In addition, the Governor’s office initiates a major campaign saying the state will experience an almost $1 billion shortfall if it does not get relief. On June 3, Gov. Beshear announces plans for a Special Session beginning June 15, and then adds gambling expansion to the call on June 4.  House Bill 2, sponsored by Speaker Stumbo, is introduced on the first day of the Special Session.  But HB 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.)

The Judicial Branch

201202 D2On July 14, 2010 the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved an application allowing “Instant Racing” machines to be placed at Kentucky Downs even though the legality of the gaming scheme still rests with the Kentucky Court of Appeals.  Other race tracks were less bold, but nothing would stop the Racing Commission.

A quick glance at the history of the “Instant Racing” case reveals striking irregularities that are bewildering for the person who simply trusts in “the process” to find justice.  Here is a partial list:

The court case began as a one-sided case when the Racing Commission, the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet and the eight Kentucky horse racing tracks literally sued themselves.  Though this rare procedure can be done in civil cases for clarity regarding a critically pending point of law, they were asking the court if they would be criminally liable if they brought such video gambling machines into the state.  A civil case?

To bring this special court case, they pleaded to the court that the need for the machines was “immediate,” yet for seven months they deferred repeatedly a simple hearing by a legislative committee that could have decided their question regarding their new regulations with a simple vote. Immediate?

Then they finally allowed that committee to vote on the issue on May 10, but only when two anti-gambling legislators were unable to attend the hearing.  The vote was four against the new gambling regulations and one for the new regulations. Because the rules of the committee required five “no” votes to kill such proposals, they were “passed.”  How did they know two anti-gambling representatives were not going to attend the hearing?

When The Family Foundation petitioned to enter the case so the other side of the issue was at least presented, they were allowed to become a party but were told by the judge they could not do “discovery.”  Entering a court case and not being allowed to ask questions is like a father telling his children that they can go swimming but “just don’t get wet.”  What is a court case other than a mutual “asking of questions” to get to the bottom of the issues at hand?

When the judge ruled in favor of the Racing Commission and tracks on Dec. 29, he did not even mention the statute in question when the suit was initiated.  In other words, they sued to be sure they would not violate a particular statute yet the judge never referenced the statute – in essence he just said, “Okay.”  Was the real question truly examined?

When The Family Foundation asked for records of communication between the race tracks and the government agencies, the agencies denied the request claiming that they were protecting records because they had “common interest” with the tracks.  Since when does a government agency “have a common interest with the gambling industry”?

When The Family Foundation asked for assistance from the Attorney General regarding their request for information, the request was denied because the Attorney General had a “conflict of interest.” (The conflict is most likely the fact that the Attorney General’s father serves on the Horse Racing Commission.)  Why does he now have a conflict of interest when he did not have one last year when he wrote a favorable (but questionable) opinion for the race tracks?

The five video games approved as “Instant Racing” by the Racing Commission on July 14 include “Crusin’ for Cash”, “Sir Willie’s Treasure Quest”, Cash Carnival”, “Wild West Willie’s Lucky Draw” and “Yukon Willie’s Gold Rush.”  These are horse races?

Though the court case is on appeal and therefore not completed, one would think the race tracks would wait for the final decision before they introduced the machines in question to the state.  However, there are 200 of them currently at Kentucky Downs and another 250 going to Ellis Park.  Didn’t THEY say THEY wanted to know if the machines were legal?

P.O. Box 911111 Lexington, KY 40591 859-255-5400