Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shields, critic of move to restore campaign contribution limits, has been major recipient of casino cash

Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields is unswayed by the Kansas City Star's reporting on the pay-to-play culture in Missouri politics.

Shields told the Star he wants to look into increasing the Missouri Ethics Commission's powers.

What neither Shields nor the Star mentions is how Shields has been a major player in practices which, while legal, (and remember who it is that makes the laws) are highly suspect. In the Nov. 14, 2007, Turner Report, I detailed Shields' cozy relationship with the casino industry:

When a politician accepts sizable cash donations from special interests it does not necessarily mean that politician has sold his vote, but it is a part of the record the public has every right to know...and one that more often than not remains uncovered by the media.

The same fact happened today when Bob Priddy of Missourinet reported on Sen. Charlie Shields' comments concerning the state legislature's failure to approve his bill to repeal loss limits at gambling casinos

He says it's a tough loss because Kansas City casinos will soon face aggressive competition from a new casino just across the state line. By January he thinks the legislature will have had more chance to gauge the impact that casino will have on Missouri's operators. He doesn't know if the information will change anything but lawmakers will at least have a better grasp on the situation.

But the impact might become obvious well before the new Kansas casino is built because the Kansas legislature is allowing more gambling at the Woodlands dog track. Hundreds of slot machines soon will be installed at the track, which is in Kansas City, Kansas.

But Shields admits it's going to be hard getting legislators from eastern Missouri to vote for ending loss limits. He says casinos in Illinois do not provide the kind of competition for St. Louis boats that the Kansas casino will provide on the western side.

In the April 28, 2007 Turner Report, I noted that casino interests have poured money into Shields' campaign coffers:

During 2006, Shields received $3,350 in direct campaign contributions from casino interests and an additional $1,795 from lobbyists representing casinos.

That may not sound like much, considering some of the figures that have been tossed about on this blog over the last three years, but Shields represents the 34th Senatorial District and the 34th Republican Senatorial District Committee has been swimming in casino cash.

Missouri Ethics Commission documents show casino interests poured more than $70,000 into the committee, which made numerous contributions into Shields' campaign fund.

Included in that total was $55,700 from Ameristar Casinos, $10,000 from Harrah's, $3,725 from Isle of Capri and $1,275 from Penn National Gaming.

While I have no reason to question Shields' sincerity in pressing his bill, it is important to note the money the gambling interests are supplying to his campaign. The media should be providing this information, but far too often they don't.


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