- State ethics body hits four lobbying committees with record $500,000 fine
- Campaign has links to gambling entrepreneur Shawn Scott
Lobbyists working to bring a casino to York County, Maine, have been hit with a record fine by the state’s ethics body, according to reports.
The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices has fined four ballot question committees with a record total of $500,000 in fines. The decision followed an investigation that was launched in June by the Commission, which oversees the state’s campaign finance laws.
The four committees had lobbied for a referendum on the question of authorizing a casino in York County, which is due to be held on Tuesday, but the Commission said they had failed to hit reporting deadlines and did not fully disclose the source of their funding in funding.
The campaign to persuade Maine voters to vote Yes on Question 1, which would authorize a new casino in York County, has been extensive and has included television ads on network and cable channels. Campaigners have emphasized the possibility that a new casino would bring jobs and tax revenue to the state.
But according to reports in the Portland Press Herald, three of the ballot question committees, including one which collected 61,000 signatures in favour of holding the referendum, were set up by real estate developer Lisa Scott, the sister of gambling entrepreneur Shawn Scott.
Ten years ago, Shawn Scott was involved in a similar referendum in Bangor, which led to him earning $51 million by selling a new gambling license for slots.
A new casino license in York County would be worth around $200 million and according to the wording of Tuesday’s ballot, only one company – Shawn Scott’s Capital Seven – would be authorized to hold the license. Reporting also revealed that the funding for the referendum campaign had come Shawn Scott and an undisclosed network of investors.
The fine in this case is ten times higher than the previous record imposed in 2014 on the National Organization for Marriage. According to local press reports, Lisa Scott’s attorney has stated that she will be appealing the penalty.
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