By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Casino gambling’s “Energizer Bunny”

As recently as last Friday, the Boston Globe editorial page was still whining over Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi’s finest moment: his staunch opposition to Gov. Deval Patrick’s casino-gambling proposal, which helped ensure its defeat earlier this year.

Now Common Cause of Massachusetts reports that pro-casino forces gave nearly $1.5 million to state legislators between 2002 and 2007, according to David Kibbe, who covers the Statehouse for The Standard-Times of New Bedford and the Cape Cod Times. Gambling interests also spent $8.2 million on salaries for lobbyists between 1998 and 2007, Common Cause found. Kibbe writes:

“Money clearly hasn’t bought results,” said Pam Wilmot, the executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “What it does buy is a never ending campaign that will always be back and back and back, sort of like the Energizer Bunny.”

Ms. Wilmot added: “Without somebody like Sal DiMasi, it probably would have gone through.”

Indeed. This is the kind of muscle that DiMasi — who reportedly received death threats because of his opposition to casinos — was up against. Twisting a few arms in the face of such opposition is pretty weak stuff by comparison.

The Common Cause report (PDF) includes a great quote from Scott Harshbarger, speaking in 1996, when he was the state attorney general:

I think the reason we don’t have a casino today in Massachusetts is because, in fact, the people have decided…. The only people that won’t accept it are the people who want the casinos. Because they figure they can stay at this longer. The Legislature and the governor move on to other issues, but they never stop. They’re constantly focused with highly paid lobbyists — the best in the state — whose job it is to stay focused on one central goal: to get that door open.

The gambling interests are still pushing on the door. Harshbarger, to his credit, is still trying to hold them back. And DiMasi, who’s taking a pounding over his own questionable ethics, deserves our thanks for standing up to this assault on our quality of life.

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  1. Anonymous

    EB3 here,and Finneran and Birmingham and Bulger and Bosley and ….So Who’s next?DeLeo?Rogers?

  2. Anonymous

    and they just keep upping the antie to buy the influence. Glad we have a few heroes in the legislature.

  3. dottie

    Cheers to Common Cause for tracking this. And cheers to Scott Harshbarger! Say what you want about the media, but this is part of the reason we refuse to subscribe — inadequate information is presented or it’s slanted or superficial, with VERY few exceptions. It’s a pretty pathetic day when we find ourselves searching for primary sources to get accurate information. The Globe lost it in our view.

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