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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Reading

- Here's a couple of articles from the Sunday Times for some extracurricular reading if you're so inclined. A lengthy front page report concerns the ties between the gambling industry, Indian gaming and Las Vegas in particular, and Sen. John McCain. As I've noted before, the senior Senator from Arizona is apparently quite the casino aficionado.

For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons.
The article includes various implications that McCain, in his role as the Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, has at times acted in accordance with the wishes of lobbyists and advisers in his inner circle. It also suggests that it was lobbyists with a competitive interest in Jack Abramoff's downfall that helped to spur and shape McCain's role in the Senate investigation of the lobbyist. Even if you feel that this reporting is symptomatic of the Times' supposed liberal bias, I think the article still serves well as a review of the legislative history of $25 billion-a-year Indian gaming industry. (Doesn't seem like that much money these days, does it?)

Two comments on the piece; the first is nothing but pure partisan snark, so please feel free to skip to the next paragraph. McCain campaign spokesperson Tucker Bounds responds to a request for comment by accusing the paper of a continuing attempt to "insinuate impropriety....where none exists — and it reveals that your publication is desperately willing to gamble away what little credibility it still has.” Bounds has seemed particularly embittered ever since getting smacked down by Campbell Brown on CNN, and I find him to be thoroughly unprofessional. And as far as I'm concerned, there's more credibility in the Business Opportunity ads in the Times' classifieds alone than in the entire McCain-Tinfeylin campaign at this point.

Secondly, and in a more non-partisan spirit, the article is accompanied by this chart which shows those "connected" to McCain who have ties to the gambling industry. You'll note that the list includes people from Las Vegas casinos, Indian tribes, online gambling companies (aren't they supposed to be illegal?), and, quite noticeably, the Poker Players Alliance. Equally noticeable by its absence is anyone associated with racing.

Now that's certainly not to say that I think track owners should be bundling donations to John McCain....or for any candidate for that matter. However, the industry is going to face legislative and competitive threats in the years to come, as tribes and states seek further expansion of gambling, vote-seeking legislators use the simulcast provisions of the Interstate Horseracing Act to bully the industry on populist matters, and, eventually and inevitably, casino companies seek to jettison racing operations which are a financial burden to their thriving racinos. Though both presidential candidates promise administrations free from the influence of lobbyists and special interests, I think we know from experience that that's a bunch of crap. So I just hope the NTRA has their political house in order.

The other article concerns a certain former governor of New York State, who is now just starting to emerge from his self-imposed isolation. Eliot Spitzer provided Time Out New York with a brief interview this past week. In fact, that's actually a lot more than Times reporter Danny Hakim got directly from Spitzer. But he also paints a picture of a man who is still prone to the occasional tantrum. Hakim reports that Spitzer reacted to a perceived slight from Governor Paterson by phoning a senior aide to demand an apology, and issuing "threats, veiled and unveiled” against Mr. Paterson. Not sure what Spitzer could possibly be threatening him with; but heaven help the current governor if the former one has anything on him!

One associate is quoted as saying, of Spitzer and the scandal which brought him down: “One of his goals has to be to make this a footnote in his obituary, and not make it the lead.” In that case, Spitzer better not plan on getting hit by a bus anytime in the near future.

[UPDATE: The DNC releases a new ad highlighting McCain's connections to casino lobbyists.]

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Spitzer-Paterson fight is real or memorex? Seems Paterson has several Spitzer administration holdovers still working on critical Paterson led issues, namely the ultimate VLT determination. Maybe we are just supposed to think they are at odds? Anything more available to support the fact that they aren't talking?