« Scott, Cabinet will seek new highway safety chief | Main | Enterprise Florida launches national television ad that spotlights Gov. Rick Scott »

Margolis wants to ban campaign cash from gambling operators to lawmakers

Calling it the "Public Confidence in Gaming Act," Sen. Gwen Margolis on Wednesday filed legislation to prohibit gambling operators from contributing to legislators,the Cabinet, and the governor.

 “A sea of cash has been sloshing into the campaign coffers of members, state-wide officials, leadership funds, and issue-advocacy bank accounts,'' Margolis said in a statement. "This area has such potential for abuse we must take strong measures to assure public confidence.”

As former Senate president who has taken her share of campaign contributions from the gaming industry, the Miami Democrat is now in a position where she's fighting a battle to keep casinos away from Miami Beach.

Judging by the fact that it's 1) an election year, 2) it's the Florida Legislature and 3) the U.S. Supreme Court has frowned upon campaign restrictions, this bill is not likely to get far. Still, it sends a message -- and maybe provokes some debate.

Here's the press release:

Senator Gwen Margolis (D-Miami) today filed a bill based on a report by Spectrum Gaming Group “to restrict the ability of the gaming industry to directly influence the political process.”   (Spectrum report, page 154) The Legislature commissioned the $400,000 report on impacts of gambling and expansion proposals to inform its review this session. 

Margolis said, “Prospective players have spent millions already as they seek to expand gambling in more forms and more areas across the state.  If a large casino is placed in your backyard, you should have some assurance the decision wasn’t fueled by large amounts of campaign cash.  We need to establish a firewall between elected officials and the gambling industry.  Any decision to change the character of our state should be made on the merits and not by influence-peddling and money.” 

Senate Bill 848, “The Public Confidence in Gaming Act,” would prohibit anyone seeking or holding a license from the state for pari-mutuel activity from making campaign contributions to any state lawmaker, the governor or cabinet, or any political committee associated with those state office holders or seekers.

 Additionally, regulators within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering would be prohibited from working or consulting for the industry for a period of 4 years.  “The additional two years is because the public perception of collusion is so great, and the industry has mega-bucks to spread around,” she said.

Margolis has been vocal in her opposition to a resort casino in her district.  Genting Americas has purchased the Miami Herald Building and Omni Hotel and wants to place a casino there.  “Biscayne Boulevard is already congested, and a casino does not fit with our two performing arts centers, two museums, and the American Airlines Arena.  This is a healthy and thriving area, with high hotel rates and occupancy.  My constituents do not want a casino here.”

“I expect to have a hearing on this bill as the Senate’s Committee on Gaming looks at gambling.  We spent the money to access the expertise of the Spectrum Gaming Group, and we cannot ignore the only specific recommendation I found in the report,” she said.  “A sea of cash has been sloshing into the campaign coffers of members, state-wide officials, leadership funds, and issue-advocacy bank accounts. This area has such potential for abuse we must take strong measures to assure public confidence.”

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Ed Jenkins

The people greatly appreciate this Margolis lady and her attempts to keep these horrible casinos our of our family friendly state along with the crime drugs and prostitution they bring. Even worse they result in more poor people in this state who have been fooled by quick riches in games where the odds are greatly against them. Casinos belong in distant places where only those that can afford to travel to them can use them since they also will be able to afford the losses and make less frequent trips to these horrible businesses.

Ed's Wife

Ed Jenkins is a right wing political hack who posts ugly and incoherent rhetoric because he has no life.

D

Pablo the prick back using his fake names, no one is amused you lower. Get back on your raft and head home to fidel or hugo who taught you to do that crap homo.

Kevin Cerino

Perhaps this bill can be amended to prohibit union officials from donating to politicians as well.

Rod Serling

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

Ghost of Ed Jenkins

Geez D delusional much?
Or maybe you and Ed are the same people since you are the only dolts who think their comments are so important that you BOTH have a typepad account to link you drivel.
Right wing nut bags punching keys with their index fingers without any concept of reality.
I am sure your efforts will produce a mass exodus to the polls to support your Republican allies given all the inciteful and hateful comments you post on here.
Or maybe the exact opposite will happen. Anyways I doubt anyone really even cares what you post here. It does give me pleasure to see you squirm though.

Hmmmm

This issue has already been through the legal system and such a ban is unconstitutional - it limits their freedom of speech.

Bill Thompson

It wouldn't be the first time that this legislature has passed a bill that was found unconstitutional by the courts.

That being said, there's no chance that the powers that be in Tallahassee will allow this to go forward and cut off the hand that feeds them. Like they always say, follow the money.

Steven Norton

Just look to New Jersey, where the Casino Control Act, took politics out of casino decisions. A New Jersey licensee, corporation or individual, could not contribute to any State office holder or candidate. And many states that introduced casino gaming at a later date, followed that policy, and still prohibit political contributations even today.

Jo Manning

Would be interesting to know which of the Miami Beach commissioners have taken money from gaming groups... Just sayin"

The comments to this entry are closed.