What do you think? Any hint of corruption here?
First, Governor Cuomo makes gambling a major plank in his plans for the state economy. He wants another seven big casinos. Several of them will be upstate.
This despite the unsavory aspects of casinos. Lots of studies in lots of states tell us crime follows casinos. To the communities where they locate. They tell us real economic development does not. They tell us taxes do not end up going down in the regions where casinos locate.
They also tell us casinos prey on addicts. They get most of their profits from them.
Nonetheless, the gov and various politicians are convinced more gambling is good for the state's economic development. (And please don't call it "gaming." That is a moniker dreamed up by PR geniuses.)
There is a lot of money in that "Nonetheless." Over $3 million that we know of. Gambling guys contributed $361,000 to the gov's campaign coffers. They contributed $400,000 to the state Republicans' war chest. And $415,000 to the Democrats'. And they did not overlook the tiny Independents - who vote with the Republicans in the legislature. They stuffed their pockets with $52,000.
Gambling guys dealt out $50,000 dollops to various leaders in the state senate and assembly. They poured more into the coffers of the lawmakers who sit on the racing and gambling committees. They even gave $130,000 to the Attorney General. And they spread more money over various other politicians.
This is all part of greasing the skids for this "economic development" the governor and politicians just happen to support.
After the bucks came in, the gov and the pols have created a curious referendum on these casinos. For you to vote on November 5. The wording is what makes it curious. And insulting.
Normally the wording of a referendum is cold and objective. It is supposed to frame the question in an even-handed way. It is not supposed to tip the scales in one direction or another. Ahh, but this referendum's wording is not so objective. In fact, it ain't even close.
The gov and legislative leaders changed that wording to make the casinos sound like Disneyworld. The wording suggests the casinos will bring nothing but jobs and lower taxes and money for schools. Wonderful, wonderful. We should have one in every community. The wording says nothing about the social ills associated with casinos.
Now why did these guys change the wording? Why have so many of them got behind this push for more gambling - knowing the social ills likely to arrive in the wake of the casinos? Why? It wouldn't have anything to do with the over $3 million they took in from the gambling guys, would it?
It is not possible they sweetened the wording in exchange for the money, is it? A little quid pro quo?
What do you think? Does money buy preferential treatment in Albany? My guess is that you can bet on it.