Sunday, March 9, 2014
AUGUSTA - The company that hopes to build a racino in southern Maine has loaned the campaign for Question 2 nearly $780,000, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state ethics commission.
Ocean Properties Ltd. of Portsmouth, N.H., is listed as the sole contributor to the Putting Maine to Work ballot question committee, which supports approval of the racino on Nov. 8. It made all of its contributions in the reporting period from July 1 through Sept. 30.
Question 2 will ask voters if they want to "allow a slot machine facility at a harness racing track in Biddeford or another community within 25 miles of Scarborough Downs, subject to local approval, and at a harness racing track in Washington County."
A separate group called The Committee to Save Maine Harness Racing, also backed by Ocean Properties, has spent $50,670 this year to support Question 2. Its fundraising for the period, and for the year, totals $29,383.
Last year, Ocean Properties loaned the committee more than $400,000 to pay for efforts to gather petition signatures for the initiative.
The ballot question is one of two gambling proposals that voters will decide on in November.
Green Jobs for Maine, a political action committee supporting Question 3, which would allow a casino in downtown Lewiston, has raised $41,654 for the year.
It raised $33,200 in the reporting period from July 1 through Sept. 30, all of it from GT Source of Kennesaw, Ga.
GT Source, which stands for Gaming Technology Source, provides gaming platforms, according to its website.
In a statement released Wednesday, Dr. Ron Chicoine of Lewiston, an investor in the casino project, said it has attracted new investors.
"This project has moved beyond a local investment group, and we are happy to see the local community embrace it as their own," he said in a statement released by the Lewiston City Council after its vote of support for the project Tuesday.
Dennis Bailey, spokesman for CasinosNo!, said he doesn't think many voters are undecided on the gambling proposals, which explains why there hasn't been a bigger effort by their supporters to win votes.
Backers of Question 2 are airing television ads, but there has been little visible effort by the backers of Question 3.
"I really think people have had this issue before them for 10 years now," Bailey said. "They are either for it or against it."
Campaign finance reports for the third quarter of this year were due at the end of Wednesday.
The report filed by CasinosNo! shows $20,135 in operating expenditures for the year, but just $2,005 in cash contributions for the reporting period and $2,675 for the year.
Three other groups that oppose the gambling proposals filed reports.
Friends of Oxford Casino, a new group, reported spending $40,113 on polling and voter identification. The expenditures are reported as unpaid debts, and no donors or contributors are identified. The group lists an Augusta post office box as an address; its treasurer is Cynthia Robbins of Poland Spring.
A casino in Oxford was approved by voters last November and is under construction.
Another new group, Mainers Against a Rotten Deal, reported a $200 in-kind donation from a lawyer who helped file incorporation papers. No other contributions or expenditures were reported.
No More Casinos Maine of Ellsworth, a group that lists state Rep. Tyler Clark, R-Easton, as its treasurer, reported $4,740 in cash contributions for the year.
In Penobscot County, where voters will decide whether to allow Hollywood Slots to add table games, Penn National Gaming has contributed $100,000 to support the campaign.
Penn National owns Hollywood Slots, and has also donated $175,000 in in-kind contributions, according to the reports.
MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: email@example.com