A political action committee that opposes a ballot initiative asking voters to approve a casino in York County has spent just over $600,000 on its campaign, according to state election finance reports filed Thursday.

But that pales in comparison to the more than $2 million spent by the pro-casino PAC Progress for Maine to sway voters to approve Question 1, according to its last campaign finance report filed in September. Progress for Maine must file another finance report by midnight Friday.

The anti-casino PAC, A Bad Deal for Maine, is headed by conservative political consultants Trevor Bragdon and Roy Lenardson, according to the report filed with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

The PAC’s expenditures were funded almost entirely by $700,000 in donations from Black Bear Development LLC, the business name for Oxford Casino, which is owned by the Kentucky-based Churchill Downs Inc.

More than half of the PAC’s expenses, $328,514.50, went to television advertising by a Maryland-based public relations firm. Another $137,897 was paid to New Hampshire-based Rockwood Solutions, which is conducting the campaign’s direct mail campaign. Rockwood Solutions is headed by Bragdon.

Lenardson, the campaign’s treasurer and director, said most of the Rockwood Solutions spending went to a Scarborough company that produced the mail fliers for the campaign. Lenardson’s Florida-based political consulting firm, Strategic Advocacy, was also paid $18,500, the report shows. The Maine law firm of Preti Flaherty donated $6,890 worth of legal services to the campaign.

The PAC also spent $45,000 for advertising on Facebook and Google. A Bad Deal for Maine filed its 11-day pre-election report a day ahead of the Friday deadline.

The ballot question is written so that only gambling entrepreneur Shawn Scott’s company, Capital 7, could be awarded a license for the York County casino. Scott was behind the campaign to add slot machines at Bangor’s struggling horse track in 2003, bringing Maine the first of its two casinos. He then sold those rights to Penn National – which still operates what is now Hollywood Casino – for $51 million as regulators scrutinized his businesses and associates.

The casino in Oxford was approved by voters in 2010 and opened in 2012.

The Oxford Casino, originally owned by a group of Maine investors, was sold to Churchill Downs in 2013 for an estimated $160 million. Churchill Downs owns numerous casino properties, but is largely known for hosting the Kentucky Derby horse race.

A license for a third casino in York County could be worth up to $200 million, state officials have said.

A Bad Deal for Maine launched its campaign in early October, rolling out a website attacking Shawn Scott’s past business dealings and controversies and dubbing him “Shady Shawn.” The anti-casino PAC has since produced television advertising, including spots that drew complaints from Progress for Maine recently, together with an unsuccessful demand for television stations to stop airing the ads.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

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