Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, didn't get the chance to latch onto any casino cash when he tried to use Rep. Joe Aull's identification to gamble at the Isle of Capri casino in Boonville and was charged with a misdemeanor, but his campaign committee has hit the jackpot thanks to casino interests.
An examination of Missouri Ethics Commission records shows Smith received $2,600 which can be directly traced to casinos during 2006, as well as $5,400 from casino lobbyists or their clients.
Another $4,800 appears to have come from Ameristar Casinos after being legally laundered through a Democratic party committee. On Aug. 12, 2006, the 94th House District Democratic Committee received a $5,000 contribution from Ameristar Casinos. Three days later, the committee gave $4,800 to Smith. Oddly, Smith's own committee disclosure form says the 94th Committee contribution came Aug. 11...the day before the committee received the Ameristar Casinos contribution.
Other casino or casino-related contributions for Smith include:
-30 days after general election 2006- Harrah's Operating $650, Isle of Capri Casinos $650
-Eight days before the election 2006- $500 contributions from Missouri Dental PAC, Missouri Pharmacy PAC, and Missouri Association of Nurse Anesthetists, all clients of Ameristar Casinos' lobbying firm Gamble & Schlemeier
-October 2006- John Bardgett and Associates, lobbying firm for Pinnacle Entertainment and numerous other clients, $650; Penn National Gaming $650
-30 days after primary- Two $650 contributions from Missouri Pharmacy PAC and $650 from MORESPAC, clients of Gamble and Schlemeier, $650 from Bardgett, $650 from Bardgett's lobbying firm
-94th House District, $4,800
The following account of Smith's Isle of Capri embarrassment was just posted on the Kansas City website:
Last Tuesday evening, Smith and several other lawmakers were at the Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville for a private dinner and a bit of lobbying by casino officials.
Smith, a freshman Democrat, admitted using someone else's player card to later enter the casino, where he played poker for a couple of hours before Missouri Highway Patrol gaming agents caught up with him. How and why they caught up with him is not clear.
Smith, a member of the upper chamber's Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, has publicly apologized and acknowledged his own poor judgment.
"I made a mistake," he said. "It won’t happen again."
Smith was cited with a Class B misdemeanor for using false identification and then was escorted off the property.
Smith said that at the time a casino employee he couldn't identify provided him with a player card after he realized he didn't have his driver's license with him, which would have enabled him to properly obtain his own entry card.
Since then the plot has thickened. Rep. Joe Aull, a Marshall Democrat, has now admitted it was his card Smith used to enter the casino.
Last week Smith said he didn't recall whose name was on the card. After the flap hit the headlines, it was soon revealed that Isle lobbyist Lynne M. Schlosser had borrowed Aull's card on Smith's behalf. Aull acknowledges he gave his card to "an Isle lobbyist."
"I gave her the card," Aull said Monday. "I assume she gave it to him." Aull said the card was returned to him a few minutes later. He then used it to also enter the casino.
"I was just trying to help out a friend," Aull said of Smith. "He came a long way and was legitimate to get in if he had had his ID with him."
Highway Patrol gaming agents on Monday turned the case over to Cooper County Prosecuting Attorney Doug Abele, who now will decide whether to press charges against Smith and possibly Aull or Schlosser, who reportedly has been fired by St. Louis-based Isle.