Monday, June 29, 2009
Gaming Commission Director accepted nearly $600 in travel, meals from Ameristar Casino lobbyists in 2004
During his final year as a state senator, Jim Mathewson, D-Sedalia, the new director of the Missouri Gaming Commission, accepted nearly $600 in meals, gifts, and travel from lobbyists representing Ameristar Casinos, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents.
As I noted in the June 24 Turner Report, after being appointed to his new position by Gov. Jay NIxon, Mathewson made a point that he planned to treat the casinos better than previous directors. "It has been my opinion that the gaming industry isn't always treated by the commission in the most respectful way and I can change that because I always treat everyone with respect."
Mathewson treated the gaming industry with respect during his time as a legislator, being the most prominent legislator to propose the removal of Missouri's loss limits. He obviously had a lot of time to talk about such things with lobbyists from the powerful Gamble & Schlemeier firm, which paid for $594.01 worth of gifts for the senator in 2004, approximately three-fourths of the gifts he received from all lobbyists that year, according to the Ethics Commission documents.
Many of the gifts were attributed to Ameristar Casinos, including what appears to be two junkets to the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City. On Feb. 17, Mathewson accepted a meal from Gamble & Schlemeier lobbyist Betsy Morgan and travel expenses from another lobbyist, Matt Morgan, representing the I70-470 Coalition. At the times, the Morgans were married.
In all, Mathewson accepted 31 gifts from the firm in 2004, out of 41 gifts altogether.
During that year, Mathewson introduced a bill to remove the loss limits on Missouri casinos.
The total goes up further, if Mathewson staffers are included. Ethics Commission records show that on many occasions when Mathewson received gifts so did one or more of his staff members. Those figures are not included on Mathewson's record.