October 9, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Md. state senator says casino firm paid for NGLTF gambling mailer
Monique Hall, gay news, Washington Blade

Monique Hall (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A state senator in Maryland told the Washington Post that the Penn National Gaming company paid more than $340,000 for a mailing that the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force sent to Maryland households in August opposing a bill to expand gambling in the state.

According to the Post, Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County), who voted against Maryland’s same-sex marriage law, said a Penn National vice president told him the casino company gave the money for the mailer to the DCI Group, a D.C. based consulting firm. The Post reported that Muse said the DCI Group then gave the money to the Task Force.

At that time, Monique Hall, a member of the NGLTF Action Fund board of directors, also served as a vice president for the DCI Group, a Republican-leaning consulting firm. Sources familiar with DCI Group told the Blade in August that DCI had been retained by one of the Maryland casinos to campaign against the gambling bill.

Hall, DCI Group, and Penn National have not responded to calls from the Blade seeking comment. NGLTF spokesperson Inga Sarda-Sorenson could not be immediately reached for comment.

The gambling bill calls for allowing a sixth casino to operate in the state in Prince George’s county and would allow casinos approved for five existing sites in Maryland as well as the one in P.G. County to operate table games. The existing sites are currently required to operate only slot machines.

Casino owners involved with the five existing sites, including Penn National, are vehemently opposed to allowing a new casino to open in P.G. County, saying the new casino would take away customers from their locations. They have spent millions of dollars on TV commercials calling on voters to vote no on the gambling expansion measure on the November ballot.

At the time it sent out its mailing in August, NGLTF said the gambling bill, introduced by Gov. Martin O’Malley, would be detrimental to efforts to save the state’s same-sex marriage law, which will come before voters in a referendum in the November election.

NGLTF noted that if the Maryland General Assembly approved the gambling bill – which it did in late August — it would come before voters in a referendum in November at the same time that the state’s marriage equality law appears on the ballot in a separate referendum.

The group noted that a gambling referendum would likely attract a larger than usual number of conservative voters to the polls who oppose both gambling and gay marriage. This would make it more difficult for marriage equality advocates to persuade voters to cast their ballot in support of same-sex marriage, the Task Force argued.

“We do not have a position on gambling, but rather on marriage equality,” NGLTF Deputy Executive Director Darlene Nipper said in a statement released in August.

“The purpose of the marriage equality mailer, funded by the Task Force Action Fund, which like other nonprofits includes many donors, some named and some who are not, is to get marriage equality over the finish line,” Nipper said. “It was sent to a portion of registered Democratic households in Maryland.”

NGLT has declined to disclose who paid for the expensive mailer, saying only that it was funded by contributors to its Action Fund, which gets involved in political campaigns in support of LGBT equality.

Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the organization leading the effort to uphold the same-sex marriage law, said the group’s internal polling has shown that a gambling referendum would have no impact on the marriage equality vote.

“We’ve been looking at this carefully for a long time and have yet to see any data that suggest there are any voters who would come out in the election because of the gaming initiative who were not already going to be out for a presidential election or to vote on the question of marriage equality,” he told the Blade.

However, at least one pollster, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a gambling referendum could bring out more conservative voters than usual, despite the relatively high turnout expected for a presidential election.

Gay Republican strategist Tom Synhorst, the founder and chair of the DCI Group, also did not respond to a request by the Blade for comment on what specific role DCI is playing in the campaign to oppose the gambling bill or whether it acted as a conduit for transferring funds for the NGLTF mailer from a gaming company.

The DCI website describes it as a public affairs company that “Helps corporations navigate their most challenging political, legislative and regulatory problems anywhere in the world.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

2 Comments
  • Just another example of Muses lying., He’s almost like Eddie long who made millions ranting at his church against gay people.m and paid millions to settle a lawsuit re kids

    lots of these ministers know that when you rile up the people against an “enemy or threat”, the people put more money in the collection plate

    the other common issue re really anti gay people is called REACTION FORMATION.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reaction_formation

    BTW another anti gay legislator in MD Not DD of boat crash fame – His wife got onto his fun scenes. with other guys. Stay tuned for a divorce, but remember it takes a year in MD. Don Dwyers divorce is expected some time next year..

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