After originally saying he was putting the lottery commission’s plans for slot machines at racetracks on hold, John Kasich backtracked a little last week. He’s now saying “he doesn’t really gamble but he’s not opposed to it” and he thinks “the revenue can be valuable.”
The Republican Governor-elect now says he will study the plan to put video lottery terminals at the state’s racetracks and, not surprisingly, we haven’t heard a peep from Loparo and his pals at LetOhioVote.org who were so opposed to the idea when it was presented by Democratic Governor Ted Strickland.
LetOhioVote.org is composed primarily of shady ex-Ken Blackwell staffers like Carlo LoParo, Gene Pierce and Norm Cummings and they took millions in undisclosed contributions from another Blackwell buddy Tim Crawford and his group New Models to fight a legal battle against Ted Strickland’s plan to allow VLTs at racetracks in Ohio.
LetOhioVote.org and New Models used their secret money to hire high-priced attorneys to get the plan delayed claiming they wanted Ohioans to be able to vote on the expansion of exiting lottery powers.
Strickland’s plan was estimated to have raised up to 800 million in much-needed revenue for the state, helping the Governor fill a hole in his last budget. It also would have helped protect the 17,000 jobs at racetracks in Ohio.
But after spending millions to get the initiative in front of voters, LetOhioVote.org pulled it from the ballot after Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner filed suit against them for breaking Ohio’s campaign finance laws by refusing to release the names of their contributors.
I’m convinced that pulling the ballot initiative is enough to prove that the group’s only goal was to derail Governor Strickland’s budget planning. But if you are a skeptic, then their current silence on the issue now that it’s in Republican hands should make you a believer.
I contacted SOS Brunner last week and she said she is still pursuing the case and will do so until her last day in office. But she also said she is unsure if SOS-elect Husted will continue the case.
If Jon Husted wants to prove to Ohioans that he is truly concerned about transparency and enforcing the state’s campaign finance laws – If Husted wants to get an early win in office showing that he is free of political bias – then he should pick up the baton and run with this one.