Walker: Against Gambling Donations Before Receiving Them

Walker: Against Gambling Donations Before Receiving Them March 26, 2015

As a young state legislator, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was quite upset at the vast amounts of money contributed to politicians by gambling interests. So upset that he proposed a bill to prohibit all campaign contributions by those involved in gambling:

In 1999, Scott Walker (R-WI) was a state legislator outraged by the role the gaming sector had played in the election of Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Alabama and South Carolina in 1998. In a press release unearthed by ThinkProgress, he urged a bold solution: a ban on political contributions by gambling interests. But his own campaigns have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and others he sought to remove from the political process.

Walker cited the recommendations of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (a group created by Congress and chaired by Pat Robertson’s university dean Kay Cole James) urging tighter restrictions on the industry’s campaign spending and promised to reintroduce his 1997 bill to prohibit any candidate or political committee accepting “a political contribution made by any person who owns, operates or manages a casino or racetrack in any state, or who is licensed by any state to operate or manage a casino or racetrack.” The press released was obtained as part of a public records request made to the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau.

“We have witnessed problems with gambling contributions at the federal level and in other states,” Walker told his colleagues at a September committee hearing on the 1999 version of the bill. With gambling interests seeking to expand all across Wisconsin, he urged, “We must act now before problems evolve in this state. Our measure will act as a protection against corruption here in Wisconsin.”

But now that he’s running for president and one of the main Republican paymasters is casino magnate billionaire Sheldon Adelson, he’s perfectly fine with such corruption — as long as gets a cut.

A spokeswoman for now-Governor Walker did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about Walker’s current thinking on gaming contributions. But in his 2012 gubernatorial recall campaign, he accepted a $250,000 donation from Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. The Republican megadonor and his wife Miriam would each make $10,000 donations to Walker’s 2014 re-election campaign as well (in addition to a $650,000 gift to the state GOP). According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Adelsons are among Walker’s six top biggest donors since 2009.

As Walker considers a potential 2016 presidential run, he reportedly traveled to Las Vegas and met Adelson for dinner as the magnate considers which hopeful to back. Adelson is pushing for an online gambling ban, fearing Internet gaming could hurt his industry.

How unsurprising.

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