- We're back to the original Fab Four in New York - or perhaps the Terrific Trio Plus One, depending on how you consider Capital Play Ltd. Catskills OTB joined Steve Wynn in basically telling the state to go shove their integrity reviews. Gov. Spitzer professed to open up the process to new players, but then imposed conditions that were difficult, if not impossible to meet. Considering that the so-called Thoroughbred Racing-NY couldn't whip up any kind of website in the two weeks of its existence, it seems unlikely that they would be able, in just a few days, to present the exhaustive information which was requested. The data that the state is demanding normally takes months to assemble, some recipients said. [Albany Times Union]
As explained by Catskill OTB President Donald Groth, for his company it was a matter of "principle of conduct."
He said OTB, as a public benefit corporation, already reports regularly to the state Racing and Wagering Board, state comptroller and state Tax Commission. Its profits are allocated to the state, counties, New York City, racetracks and breeders.The large payments are the $100,000 retainers requested from each entity for the cost of the exhaustive integrity review that includes interviews, background checks and record checks of each entity and its principals; all the principals are also required to submit their last three years tax returns. The cost to the firms are expected to far exceed the retainer amount.
"Catskill OTB could not agree to such a large payment of public monies for a report which would still further certify Catskill's well studied integrity," a press release said. [Saratogian]
I don't really know what they expect to find other than some possible ghosts in the closet that aren't really relevant to the situation at hand (though they certainly could be portrayed as such by politicians or by the PR machines of competing bidders). This is just political grandstanding, plain and simple, which threatens to obscure some of the more relevant issues regarding possible attempts to illegally influence public officials. Just because Jeff Perlee may have paid his taxes properly or never been arrested for a DWI doesn't mean that Empire has conducted itself with integrity with respect to its morphing from Friends of New York, or the conduct of Jared Abbruzzese.