November 22, 2017
Politics Latest News | Poll Questions | Charlie Rose | North Korea | Sexual Harassment

Maine casino campaign to hand over documents in ethics probe

By Michael Shepherd, BDN Staff
Updated:
Micky Bedell | BDN | BDN
Micky Bedell | BDN | BDN
Russell Greenberg of Waltham, Mass., collects signatures in West Market Square in Bangor for "an act to allow slot machines or a casino in York county," according to the petition Maine residents are being asked to sign.

AUGUSTA, Maine — After her lawyer refused a subpoena in June, the leader of a campaign for a new Maine casino agreed Friday to provide documents by September to ethics watchdogs investigating foreign and domestic funding sources behind the bid.

The Maine Ethics Commission is probing the campaign led by Lisa Scott, the Miami sister of Shawn Scott, a U.S. Virgin Islands developer whose Las Vegas-based Capital Seven LLC would have sole rights to a York County casino under a question on the Maine ballot in November.

The commission voted in June to investigate the effort after the campaign disclosed in April that nearly $4.3 million in funding previously attributed to Lisa Scott of Miami was actually loaned to her by Capital Seven and a Japanese consulting firm.

Those disclosures affected all money donated to the campaign from late 2015 through March’s end — an apparent violation of Maine law, which makes entities spending more than $5,000 on a campaign disclose that within a week.

Backers have argued that they’re in compliance, but the commission has issued four subpoenas to groups backing the campaign asking for bank statements, financial records and communications related to the casino bid.

At a June meeting, Bruce Merrill, Lisa Scott’s attorney, refused subpoenas from the panel. After that, the commission said in a memo that it sent the subpoena to Merrill and to three physical addresses for Lisa Scott, but it was unclear if she received them.

Merrill only agreed to accept that subpoena at a Friday meeting in Augusta after the commission pushed back deadlines for Lisa Scott and Cheryl Timberlake, the Augusta-based lobbyist and treasurer for Lisa Scott’s campaign committee, to provide different sets of documents.

The parties agreed to an Aug. 4 deadline for Lisa Scott’s legal team to raise objections to providing certain documents, giving her a Sept. 1 deadline to provide documents. Timberlake must now provide documents by July 31.

The commission has also sent two other subpoenas to Capital Seven and Bridge Capital, a company in the U.S. Pacific commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands that Shawn Scott runs. The two companies have raised objections to the subpoenas, but a Maine lawyer for Bridge Capital has said it would cooperate if allowed to negotiate their subpoena.

Shawn Scott is a controversial figure in the global gaming industry: Bridge Capital company has recently operated in Asia, where the Laotian government seized a casino in 2015 over allegations of corruption, which the company has denied.

Domestically, Shawn Scott has specialized in pumping value into distressed facilities via referendum: He ran a 2003 campaign in Maine that allowed slot machines at what became Hollywood Casino in Bangor after he sold the rights for $51 million without a license to operate here after a damning report from harness racing regulators.

A failed 2016 casino bid in Massachusetts also agreed to pay $125,000 in penalties after violating several sections of law by disguising $1.6 million in contributions from Scott-linked companies.

 


Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like