Records: Casino campaign tried to hide businessman's role
Nov. 03, 2017
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A state ethics commission has released records that contradict testimony made by players in a drive to bring a casino to southern Maine.
Voters will decide next week if entrepreneur Shawn Scott can run a casino somewhere in York County. The ethics records show Scott and his business partners were fronting cash and making decisions for the drive to get the question on the ballot, the Portland Press Herald reported .
Scott's sister, Lisa Scott, formed a committee called Horseracing Job Fairness to launch the pro-casino campaign. She and the committee's treasurer, Augusta lobbyist Cheryl Timberlake, gave conflicting accounts to the ethics commission on Tuesday about Shawn Scott's role and what they knew about it.
But emails released by the ethics commission late Wednesday detail communications among the Scotts, Timberlake and other associates as the casino drive progressed.
The records released by the commission also include financial reports and other emails that show how Shawn Scott and partners, one of whom was based in Cambodia, were the key people in the $4.5 million push to gather signatures and get the casino proposal in front of voters.
State Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, House chairman of the committee that oversees Maine's two existing casinos, said the records shed light on a campaign that had deception at its core.
"Mainers are still in the dark about who was actually financing this campaign, and there is no doubt this absolutely violates the spirit of the citizens' initiative process," Luchini said.
Shawn Scott did not immediately respond to an email that The Associated Press sent to Bridge Capital, a business where he serves as vice chairman on the island of Saipan. His representative did not immediately respond to a phone message.
His attorney, former Maine Attorney General Andrew Ketterer, also did not immediately return a phone call from the AP. Lisa Scott's attorney, Bruce Merrill of Portland, and Timberlake also did not immediately return calls.
Scott has recently become more public, and identified himself as a promoter of the casino push. The ballot question is worded so Scott's company is the only one that could be awarded the license for the new casino. He hosted an "online town hall" about the casino project on Thursday night.
"Throughout this campaign, we've tried to make it easy for voters to stay informed about the benefits of Question 1, and this is just another example of our commitment to be as accessible as possible throughout Maine," he said in a written statement about the online session.
The ethics commission has decided to set fines for Horseracing Job Fairness for violating state campaign finance laws by failing to disclose the true source of its funds, and for missing deadlines to file reports. It was scheduled to meet to set the fines on Friday.
Information from: Portland Press Herald, www.pressherald.com
This story has been corrected to show the attorney's last name is Merrill, not Merill.