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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to vote on dwindling budget


Image result for MIDDLEBORO REMEMBERS MASHPEE WAMPANOAG WYNN





CHECK OUT REEL WAMPS


The Tribe purchased land owned by investors in Middleboro. 
Will that be included as another casino? 
Is the Tribe paying taxes on that land? 




Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to vote on dwindling budget

By Tanner Stening
Posted May 18, 2018


MASHPEE — The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is facing a future with far fewer financial resources, at least temporarily, as it continues to fight to secure its reservation land and build a $1 billion casino, according to its proposed budget for fiscal year 2018.
The tribal council approved a budget on May 3 that includes a steep decline in loan dollars from Genting Malaysia — the development firm backing the tribe’s effort to build a casino in Taunton — deep cuts to tribal salaries, and sizeable rollbacks in most spending categories across all departments, according to a copy of the proposed budget obtained by the Times.
The document was distributed to tribe members earlier this week and the general membership is scheduled to vote on it Sunday, according to the tribe’s website and a source familiar with the tribe’s finances.
For the coming fiscal year, the tribe is receiving $5.4 million in loans from Genting, which is less than half of what it received for fiscal year 2017. That year, the tribe received $11,944,567, an increase of approximately $250,000 over fiscal year 2016.
According to Genting’s most recently quarterly report, the Malaysian-based casino group has invested roughly $388.3 million in promissory notes issued by the tribe, which carry fixed interest rates of 12 percent and 18 percent per year. In November, a robocall announcing a meeting for tribe members to address longstanding concerns about the tribe’s mounting debt claimed its debt had grown to $425 million and that services had been cut.
Neighbors of the proposed Taunton casino had sued the Interior Department in February 2016 seeking to overturn the agency’s decision to take land into trust. U.S District Court Judge William Young remanded that decision back to the federal agency, suggesting in a later ruling that an alternative approach might allow the Interior Department to take the land into trust. Since then, the agency has been considering whether the state of Massachusetts had exercised authority over the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in a manner that could be viewed as a surrogate for the federal jurisdiction requirement under the Indian Reorganization Act.
Genting’s ability to recover its investment is “dependent on the outcome of the pending legal case and review by the relevant government authority,” according to the report.
There are significant cutbacks proposed to tribal employment. Tribal leaders will spend only $4,433,385 on salaries this year, down from $7,226,643 in fiscal year 2017. In 2016, the tribe spent $8,397,569 on salaries. As a result of that reduction, the tribe has had to lay off 31 members, according to a source with knowledge of the reductions, including both of its grant writers. The tribe employed roughly 100 members before the cutbacks, the source said.
The employees who were laid off received letters in December and January, informing them that “recent changes to the tribe’s funding source and litigation around potential gaming enterprise” were responsible for the layoffs.
Tribal council salaries will see an 11.5 percent reduction, with payouts for the 12 legislative personnel — including fringe benefits — totaling $938,206. That figure is down from roughly $1,060,468 in 2017.
But despite spending cutbacks, tribal leaders still enjoy a sizeable piece of overall spending on tribal salaries; their share of salaries across all departments has increased from 14.7 percent in 2017 to 21.2 percent, despite reductions in their annual pay.
Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell’s proposed salary, including fringe benefits, for the coming fiscal year is $181,794, down from $219,186 in 2017. Tribal Vice Chairwoman Jessie “Little Doe” Baird will be making $134,439, down from $160,269.
There are two council members who make considerably less than the other members. Rod Dias’ proposed salary for the coming fiscal year is listed at $1,200 and Carlton Hendricks’ salary is $11,800; under the proposed spending plan other council members would make between $84,255 and $103,566, fringe benefits included.
Critics within the tribe have repeatedly raised questions about the rising debt associated with planning and building the casino, and have criticized tribal leaders for taking home what they believe to be excessive paychecks.
After tribal land had been taken into trust in 2015, Cromwell saw his salary increase 42 percent from $125,453 to $178,200 in the span of three weeks. That spike was tied to a vote that sought to bring tribal council members in line with officers in other tribes and municipal governments.
In a statement emailed to the Times, Cromwell said the budget and its financing go through an exhaustive review and approval process through general membership votes and tribal council approvals.
“Tribal citizens then vote on the budget,” he said. “This year we are exploring ways to become more efficient in our operations and we are making some adjustments.”
Spending on legal fees and professional services has taken the greatest hit in the proposed budget. The tribe has allocated only $500,000 for legal spending in the coming fiscal year, which is down from $1,193,795; and spending to professional services will plummet from $3,989,495 in 2017 to $518,000, according to the proposed budget provided to the Times.
The decline in legal fees and lobbying efforts may be tied to a bill that was introduced in March that would end the ongoing legal challenge to the tribe’s efforts to secure its reservation land, consisting of 171 acres in Mashpee and 150 acres in Taunton where the tribe’s casino would be built.

Tribe concerned about proposed changes to bill







Tribe concerned about proposed changes to bill


CHECK OUT REEL WAMPS


The Tribe purchased land owned by investors in Middleboro. 
Will that be included as another casino? 
Is the Tribe paying taxes on that land? 


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Tribe concerned about proposed changes to bill

By Tanner Stening 
Posted May 18, 2018



The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has responded to a letter issued by the Mashpee Board of Selectmen last month that took exception to a bill that, if passed, could end the tribe’s ongoing legal woes.
U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., introduced the legislation in March, which seeks to reaffirm a 2015 decision by the U.S Department of Interior to take 171 acres in Mashpee and 150 acres in Taunton of tribal reservation land into trust, and create statutory safeguards to bar future litigation on the matter in federal court. U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., has since introduced the same bill in the Senate.
The original letter, which was signed by the board on April 18 and released at its regular meeting, said the town believes the legislation should include language about a 2008 intergovernmental agreement between the town and the tribe that “memorialized” the tribe’s commitment to not renew land claims that led to a degradation of relations between the two governments in the late 1970s.
In a response letter addressed to Selectmen Chairman Thomas O’Hara, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell said the tribe has “deep concerns” about the “potential negative impact” of altering the legislation on the tribe’s ability to “get it enacted before the Department of the Interior moves to disestablish our reservation.” The congressional action is intended as a fix to a 2009 Supreme Court decision, known as Carcieri v. Salazar, that held the Secretary of the Interior could not take land into trust for tribes that were not under federal jurisdiction before 1934.
The town wants to add a number of provisions to the proposed law, including directing that the tribe “waive and release” any claims concerning real property within Mashpee and owned by private property owners; “not exercise control over or limit access to” town land; and not construct or operate a casino conducting either Class II or Class III gaming authorized under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in town.
Cromwell said he is confident there are other ways to address the board’s concern. The language in the bill “strictly adheres” to similar legislation that has reaffirmed reservations for other tribes, he said. Two such bills were passed by overwhelming majorities in Congress. Cromwell argues that changing the language to include the town’s revisions may “imperil” the bill’s passage.
The legislation would actually work to maintain existing agreements between the town and the tribe, Cromwell added.

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to vote on dwindling budget






Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wynn resort name under fire amid new sex claims


WYNN RESORTS is a publicly traded company and to date, no information has been forthcoming about the impacts of the $7.5 MILLION settlement and the impacts of the concealment. 

Wynn resort name under fire amid new sex claims

Jordan Graham Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Steve Wynn

Credit: Nancy Lane

Explosive new allegations — including rape — against toppled casino mogul Steve Wynn come as the state Gaming Commission has been flooded with unsolicited calls to drop the magnate’s name from the $2.4 billion Everett gambling palace.

Two new accusers have come forward, including one who told authorities Wynn raped her at least three times in the early 1970s, The Associated Press reported.

The woman, who was not identified, told police she was raped in her Chicago apartment by Wynn, and said she became pregnant and later gave birth in a gas station restroom, the AP added.

Another woman told Las Vegas police she was forced to quit her job as a card dealer after refusing to have sex with Wynn in 1976, the news agency added. 

The Wall Street Journal has already reported on a number of sexual harassment allegations against Wynn, including one from a former manicurist at his Las Vegas hotel, who allegedly received a $7.5 million payment from Wynn. State gaming officials have said Wynn took steps to keep that settlement private, including hiding it from investigators. 

Wynn has denied the allegations, blaming his ex-wife for the scandal.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission said yesterday its investigation continues amid the new allegations.

“MCG continues to conduct an aggressive investigation on this very serious matter,” said Elaine Driscoll, a commission spokeswoman.

CHARLIE BAKER RECEIVED A GENEROUS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION THAT WAS LAUNDERED THROUGH THE RNC.....STEVE WYNN WAS FINANCE CHAIR OF THE RNC UNTIL WYNN WAS FORCED TO RESIGN....HAS THE RNC RETURNED WYNN'S CONTRIBUTIONS?

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Gov. Charlie Baker also criticized Wynn, and said he supports the Gaming Commission’s investigation.

“Gov. Baker finds these allegations horrifying and deeply disturbing and expects them to be taken seriously,” said Lizzy Guyton, a spokeswoman for Baker, in a statement. “The governor believes it was the right decision for Wynn resorts to terminate its relationship with Mr. Wynn in light of recent disturbing allegations.”

In the roughly one month since the allegations first surfaced, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been hit with unsolicited calls for the Everett casino, called the Wynn Boston Harbor, to be barred from using Wynn in its name.

“I absolutely do not want the Everett Casino to bear the name of Steve Wynn, someone who routinely sexually harassed and assaulted others,” one comment says. “Putting his name on the Boston skyline is an insult to our community.”

The commission has broad power to regulate casinos, but it is unclear if they could demand a name change.
Michael Weaver, a spokesman for Wynn Resorts, said the company will not act on a name change.
“Opinions are running high right now on the topic of changing the name on our Boston resort,” Weaver said. “Wynn is a $25 billion brand supported by 25,000 employees worldwide; it is not about one person. Now is not the right time to quickly consider a name change, considering the global implications of such a decision.”

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2018/02/wynn_resort_name_under_fire_amid_new_sex_claims




Wednesday, February 21, 2018

'OMG!': Emails reveal shock as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission reacted to Steve Wynn allegations


'OMG!': Emails reveal shock as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission reacted to Steve Wynn allegations



On the afternoon of Jan. 26, when a copy of the Wall Street Journal's explosive report on sexual misconduct allegations against casino mogul Steve Wynn landed in Massachusetts Gaming Commission chairman Steve Crosby's email inbox, his reaction consisted of three letters.
"OMG!" Crosby wrote in an email to his wife, after the Gaming Commission's director of communications forwarded the story to the commission's top brass.
Crosby, his fellow commissioners and their staff would swiftly be swamped with media inquiries and outraged comments from members of the public, as the regulatory body attempted to respond to the growing crisis.
In another email, Crosby described the allegations as a "stink bomb" that had hit the commission.
While the $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor casino had faced legal challenges before, the commission quickly realized that the fallout from the Journal's story would be of another magnitude entirely.
"These fires burn so hot they can consume anything they touch," Crosby said in responding to another email about the allegations. "Hopefully we can do this right."
MassLive has obtained thousands of pages of the Gaming Commission's emails from the week the story broke, following a public records request.
A review of the emails offers a glimpse into how the state's gaming regulators reacted to the growing controversy. And the emails show the commission was closely tracking how the Wynn scandal played out in the media.
Hours after commissioners met to discuss the allegations on Jan. 31, as well as face questions from reporters, Crosby forwarded one article to the Gaming Commission's chief investigator, Karen Wells, with the note, "I think we did pretty damn well in this one!" 
The Gaming Commission withheld emails related to the agency's ongoing investigation into Wynn and privileged messages between commission staff and attorneys.
On Jan. 26, the Journal reported that Wynn had paid a $7.5 million settlement in 2005 after a manicurist at one of his casinos alleged that he pressured her into having sex against her will. Steve Wynn called the allegations "preposterous."
Dozens of other people who worked at Wynn's casinos told the Journal of a years-long pattern of sexual advances toward female employees, including exposing himself to and requesting sexual services from massage therapists who worked for his company.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission quickly launched a review of whether Wynn's alleged conduct put the company in violation of regulations -- most notably, a requirement that gaming companies and their individual officers be found "suitable" for a gaming license.
Wynn and his company passed that review in 2013, but at a Jan. 31 public hearing the commission confirmed that the company had not disclosed the settlement to investigators at the time.
The commission's review is ongoing with no stated end date. Under Massachusetts' 2011 Massachusetts casino law, the Gaming Commission has the right to revoke or suspend the casino licenses for individuals and companies who violate regulations.
Wynn has denied any allegations of assault and claimed the accusations were instigated by his ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom he was embroiled in a shareholder dispute. The Las Vegas billionaire, who grew his initial casino investments in the 1960s into an international gaming empire, resigned as CEO of his namesake company on Feb. 6.
Shortly after the story broke Crosby asked outside experts for guidance.
"Needless to say, we are swamped in Mass with how to deal with the Wynn allegations. You got out at the right time!" wrote Crosby to former Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett, who left his post in December. "If you were willing, I'd like very much to get some informal advice from you on this."
Crosby also received an email from corporate governance consultant Hal Shear, and responded by asking for background on how Wynn's board should handle the situation.
"Just what we needed. If his board deals with it, easy for us. If not, hmmm," Crosby wrote to Shear.
Shear also had sent Crosby an email containing a Bloomberg story from earlier that day, Jan. 28, headlined, "Harassment Claims Add to History of Issues With Wynn Board."
The Bloomberg article said the Wynn Resorts board has faced criticism for "weak corporate governance and deference to its founder and chairman." The article added, "Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., the proxy advisory firm, last year gave Wynn Resorts its worst ranking for governance risk. "
Shear's email to Crosby carried the following subject line: "too bad your guys didn't flag some of this."
"Not saying I would have used this to have negated the deal, but it shows pretty poor practices," Shear wrote.
In another email, Gaming Commissioner Lloyd Macdonald highlighted the outsize role Wynn plays in his company's projects, and the challenges facing the commission in its investigation.
"There is no silver bullet here. To state the obvious, what makes the stakes so high is that Wynn is the personal driving force of almost every decision relating to design, presentation and quality of the gaming operation and resort," Macdonald wrote to Crosby.
"But we must hold him accountable," added Macdonald, who was not on the commission when they selected Wynn in 2014. "Fortunately, at this time the most important thing is the facts, and our commitment to get to the bottom of them must be unambiguous."
Work on Wynn Boston Harbor has not stopped, and the casino is still scheduled to open in Everett, just outside of Boston, in June 2019.
MassLive reporter Gintautas Dumcius contributed to this report.
http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/02/there_is_no_silver_bullet_emai.html



Amid Wynn investigation, people should 'sit tight and see what happens,' Massachusetts Gaming chairman says

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/02/amid_wynn_investigation_people.html



Here's what Massachusetts investigators are looking into after Steve Wynn hit with allegations of sexual misconduct










Friday, February 2, 2018

Zinke's agency held up Indians’ casino after MGM lobbying



Zinke's agency held up Indians’ casino after MGM lobbying

Two tribes in Connecticut say the Interior Department illegally failed to say yes or no to their plans for a third casino in the state.


Ryan Zinke is pictured. | Getty Images

The Interior Department’s refusal to sign off on the tribes’ plans for a third Connecticut casino came after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and other senior department officials held numerous meetings and phone calls with MGM lobbyists and the company’s Republican supporters in Congress. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Two casino-owning American Indian tribes are accusing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of illegally blocking their plans to expand operations in Connecticut — a delay that stands to benefit politically connected gambling giant MGM Resorts International.
The Interior Department’s refusal to sign off on the tribes’ plans for a third Connecticut casino came after Zinke and other senior department officials held numerous meetings and phone calls with MGM lobbyists and the company’s Republican supporters in Congress, according to a POLITICO review of Zinke’s schedule, lobbying registrations and other documents. The documents don’t indicate whether they discussed the tribes’ casino project.
Federal law gives Interior just 45 days to issue a yes-or-no verdict after a tribe submits proposed changes to its gaming compact with a state, as the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes note in a suit they filed against Zinke and the department. But the department declined to make any decision in this case, an inaction that raises questions about whether an intensive lobbying campaign by one of the gambling industry’s biggest players muscled aside the interests of both the tribes and the state of Connecticut.
“I think the Department of Interior has been derelict in failing to give approval” to the tribes’ request, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told POLITICO. “We asked for a meeting, but they were unresponsive. They never even responded.”
Meanwhile, MGM and its allies had direct access to Interior. Zinke had multiple conversations last year with Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei — two Nevada Republicans whose state is a major center of employment for MGM, and who have each tried to impede the tribes’ casino plans. The company also doubled its lobbying spending and assembled a team that includes Bush-era Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Florida-based Trump fundraiser Brian Ballard.
The proposed Connecticut casino would sit on non-tribal land just across the border from a billion-dollar casino that MGM is planning in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Pequot tribe’s Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut previously provoked the ire of former New Jersey casino owner Donald Trump, who complained during a 1993 congressional hearing that “they don’t look like Indians to me.”
An Interior spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment, but the department is due to respond by next week to the suit the tribes filed in November. MGM has sought to join the suit on Interior’s side.
MGM and its supporters say the tribes are trying to circumvent restrictions on “off-reservation” gambling while still maintaining their exclusive access to Connecticut’s lucrative casino market, and that the new property would provide unfair competition to its Springfield project.
Interior officials sent the tribes encouraging signals as recently as May. But by mid-September the department reversed course, saying it would be premature to either approve or reject the plans.
“It’s 100 percent about delaying us for as long as they possibly can,” said Andrew Doba, a spokesman for the joint enterprise the tribes created for their new project.
The case is far from the first legal dispute to arise from Interior’s role as the overseer of Indian tribes’ gambling agreements with the states. Clinton-era Secretary Bruce Babbitt faced a special prosecutors’ investigation after Interior rejected three Wisconsin tribes’ plans for a casino that other, Democrat-supporting tribes opposed — though he ultimately was cleared. Indian gambling also played a key role in the George W. Bush-era Jack Abramoff scandal.
In the Connecticut case, the tribes have been operating two casinos — the Pequot tribe’s Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun — since the early 1990s. Their success in the market between Boston and New York provided competition to casinos in Atlantic City, including the formerly Trump-owned Taj Mahal.
As gambling spread across the U.S. in recent decades, MGM and other casino developers — including Trump — pursued projects in Connecticut but were ultimately unsuccessful. State law there limits casino ownership to the two in-state tribes and their new joint venture.
The tribes say they are fully complying with state law and the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which allows federally recognized tribes to operate casinos on their reservations or lands held in trust by the federal government. The casino they want to open is technically a commercial project that would be operated by MMCT Venture, a company jointly owned by the tribes that owns the casino site in East Windsor and entered into a development agreement with the town.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and the state legislature signed off on that arrangement last year, so long as the tribes agreed to amend their gaming compacts that guaranteed a certain share of slot revenues would go to the state. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires Interior to approve such compact amendments after a brief review window, unless the amendments violate the terms of the federal law.
The lawsuit seeks to force approval of the contract, arguing that the law does not allow Interior to refuse to render a verdict.
“IGRA and its implementing regulations leave the Secretary with no discretion to proceed in any other manner,” Connecticut and the tribes argue in their lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Nov. 29.
At one point, Interior seemed inclined to agree with the tribes’ interpretation of the law. In a May 12 technical guidance letter to the tribes, Associate Deputy Interior Secretary James Cason acknowledged that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act provides for a 45-day review period for compact amendments and that the department may disapprove them only for violating the act, other federal laws or trust obligations to the tribes.
While Cason stressed that his advice was nonbinding and did not constitute a preliminary decision, he endorsed earlier guidance from the Obama administration that the Connecticut amendment reflected the “unique circumstances” at play and that opening a new casino would not affect the tribes’ exclusivity agreement with the state.
But the tribes’ request drew opposition from out-of-state lawmakers like Heller and Amodei.
“Under that framework, the tribes seek to expand off-reservation gaming without going through the procedures mandated by” the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Amodei wrote in a July 28 letter to Cason, following up on a discussion earlier that day. Amodei asked whether Interior planned to allow the 45-day review period to lapse, which would allow the amendments to be “deemed approved.”
Ultimately, Interior decided against approval. Acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Michael Black told the tribes in a Sept. 15 letter that approving or disapproving the amendment to their gaming compact was “premature and likely unnecessary,” and said Interior had “insufficient information” to make a decision. However, he did not cite any legal justification for that move, nor did he outline what additional information the department would need.
Interior has on at least one occasion returned a gaming compact amendment rather than make a yes-or-no decision, although the circumstances were slightly different at the time. In 2013, the department told the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribes in Oklahoma that it could not process their amendments because of incomplete information. But in that case, the department replied in less than 30 days rather than wait for the entire review period to elapse, and it cited specific regulations and outlined what additional information it needed from the tribes.
Black copied Amodei and Heller on his letter but did not include any Connecticut lawmakers. (He did say a separate letter was going to Malloy, the Connecticut governor.) Zinke and Heller also spoke on the phone on Sept. 15, according to an entry on Zinke’s calendar. And the day before Black sent the letter, Zinke and Cason were scheduled to meet at the White House with deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn, although Zinke’s calendar does not list the subject of the meeting.
Ahead of the decision, MGM “participated in Interior’s review” through meetings and correspondence in which the company urged Interior to either return the amendments without making a decision or to disapprove them for violating the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, according to a statement filed in court by Uri Clinton, MGM’s senior vice president and legal counsel.
MGM brought on heavyweights including Norton — who disclosed her work for the company just last month — as well as Ballard, a lobbyist who has helped raise millions for Trump’s campaign. MGM’s spending on lobbyists for all issues more than doubled last year, to $1.5 million spread across five outside firms and its own newly formed in-house team.
An affiliated company, MGM Public Policy LLC, also paid $270,000 last year to hire a team of lobbyists from Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP to work on issues including gaming. That’s the firm at which Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt worked until he joined the administration last year, though he has agreed to recuse himself from matters involving former clients of his firm without prior authorization.
“MGM Resorts last year established a public policy office in Washington to engage more directly on Federal legislative and policy issues,” an MGM spokesman said in a statement. “Our advocacy activity reflected that increased engagement. As the largest employer in Nevada, part of that advocacy is routinely engaging our elected representatives.”
Heller and Amodei each had multiple meetings and phone calls with Zinke last year, according to the secretary’s calendar, although it’s unclear whether they discussed the Connecticut casinos. On one occasion, Zinke joined Heller for dinner at a Las Vegas steakhouse on July 30, when he was in the state touring national monuments, one of several pieces of Interior’s portfolio of interest to Nevada.
A Heller spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. But the senator has tried to advance MGM’s interests in the past: In 2016, he offered an amendment to a defense bill that would have prevented Indian tribes from operating commercial casinos in the same state where they operate casinos on the reservation — precisely what the Connecticut tribes are trying to do. The amendment never came to a vote, and Heller does not appear to have ever discussed it publicly.
MGM employees and the company’s political action committee have given $96,000 this cycle to Heller’s reelection campaign and leadership PAC, making the company his largest single source of contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Amodei has received no donations from company employees or its PAC.
Interior’s Sept. 15 decision came two weeks after Zinke invited several lobbyists for MGM to join him and other guests for a social visit on his office balcony, which overlooks the National Mall. They included, according to Zinke’s calendar, Ballard and other lobbyists from his firm Florida-based firm Ballard Partners, which opened its first Washington, D.C., office in 2017. Also present were Zinke’s former family attorney and a major GOP fundraiser, according to copies of the secretary’s calendar.
MGM hired Ballard in March and paid the firm $270,000 last year, according to disclosure filings. Ballard was Florida finance chairman for Trump’s 2016 campaign and helped organize a fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel in Washington last summer at which donors gave $35,000 to attend or $100,000 to join the host committee.
Ballard declined to discuss his work for MGM or any other client and said he could not recall the details of that particular meeting, which took place Aug. 29, according to Zinke’s calendar. But Ballard said he had met Zinke and thinks “the world of him.”
In October, MGM brought on Norton, who served as Interior secretary from 2001 to 2006, to lobby on issues related to the Connecticut tribes. Norton began lobbying for MGM on Oct. 25, according to disclosures filed Jan. 19.
The next day, Oct. 26, Interior officials spoke to the tribes and asked them to explain why the department was obligated to weigh in on their casino since it was being built by a commercial entity and not on tribal land.
In a brief interview last week, Norton said she did not know why her disclosure form was filed so late — lobbyists are required to file disclosures within 45 days — and she did not respond to follow-up inquiries.
Meanwhile, a new state legislative session begins in February in Connecticut. MGM plans to ask legislators there to allow an open bidding process for new casinos in the state, arguing that Interior’s refusal to act shows that the state's attempt to limit casino ownership to the tribes would not work.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Wynn’s casino license in jeopardy after investigator says firm deliberately concealed harassment payout


FROM MASSTERLIST:

Today's News
Wynn’s casino license in jeopardy after investigator says firm deliberately concealed harassment payout
It’s no longer just about Steve Wynn. It’s about whether the company, Wynn Resorts, will keep its Everett casino license after a state investigator found that the firm deliberately concealed from the state a $7.5 million payout to settle a sexual harassment complaint against chief executive Steve Wynn. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine, Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive, and Mark Arsenault at the Globe have more on how state regulators are now signaling that there’s more at stake than just going after Steve Wynn.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reports: “The Nevada Gaming Control Board launched a formal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct made against Steve Wynn, a move that may ultimately mean the end of the casino mogul’s storied career.” Attorney General Maura Healey said yesterday that the allegations of sexual misconduct by casino magnate Steve Wynn are "sickening and disturbing,” reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive.