Monday, April 30, 2007
Nodler awash in money from gambling interests, lobbyists
During the past couple of weeks in the Missouri Senate, Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, has been involved in two controversial proposals to increase scholarships for Missouri students, both of which, critics have said, have used the money for needy students as a disguise for the real intention of the bill.
Nodler's MOHELA bill has been criticized as a paean to special interests, while he was on the winning side last Tuesday of a 17-16 vote to raise the loss limit on Missouri casinos, a stance which puts him at odds with his own party's platform.
While certainly it is not difficult to believe the senator sincerely wants to improve the lot of Missouri college and university students, it is also hard to overlook just how much money the senator has been raking in from casino interests and from those connected to the industry.
In his April disclosure form filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Nodler reported receiving $3,950 that can be connected to gambling including:
-$650 from Isle of Capri Casinos
-$500 from Michael Winner, lobbyist for the Missouri Gaming Association
-$500 from Brent Hemphill, lobbyist for Argosy Gaming
-A total of $2,300 from Missouri Pharmacy Association, Missouri Physician Assistant, Missouri Dental PAC and Southwest Missouri Dental PAC, all of which are represented by the lobbying firm of Gamble and Schlemeier, which represents the interests of Ameristar Casinos.
During the 2006 calendar year, the Elect Nodler Committee picked up approximately $6,000 connected to gambling, including $650 (the maximum amount allowed at that time) from Harrah's, $650 from Isle of Capri Casinos, and $2,950 from interests represented by Gamble & Schlemeier.
Though it could very well be coincidence, the 32nd District Senatorial Committee donated $2,400 to the Elect Nodler Committee March 31, the same day it received $2,500 from the 129th Legislative District Republican Committee, virtually the same amount that committee had received during the reporting period from interests represented by Gamble and Schlemeier.
The gambling loss limit may take some profit away from the casinos, but they are still making money, big money. The idea of allowing them to hurt families by removing the loss limits that prevent addicted gamblers from losing too much money during a casino visit just so they can add to those totals is obscene.
So is the idea of pouring money into legislators' campaign accounts to make it happen.