AUGUSTA, Maine — The developer who would be the only one with rights to a new casino in York County under a 2018 referendum is finally taking a central role in the campaign alongside with others linked to his projects from Macau to Massachusetts.
A spokesman for Progress For Maine, a new political action committee that formed last week and has ties to China, said Shawn Scott, the U.S. Virgin Islands developer, is one of two partners who will be “leaders in the campaign over the next several months.”
That’s a big change: A committee run by Scott’s sister, Lisa Scott of Miami, is being investigated by the Maine Ethics Commission over $4.3 million in donations initially attributed to her in filings that were later amended to come from companies linked to her brother.
Shawn Scott is known for a web of offshore companies and David A. Wilson, his other partner in Progress For Maine can be linked to Bridge Capital, a Scott-run company in the U.S. Pacific commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Here’s how the network fits together.
The PAC is directed by the head of a California company, but looks to be the prime player. Progress For Maine said in a filing that it’s controlled by Michelle Wilson, who runs a California company founded by David A. Wilson. But the PAC was founded by Atlantic and Pacific Realty Capital, a New York company.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai’s website said that company is affiliated with Koa Overseas Consultants, Ltd., the firm that operates in China and does consulting around the American EB-5 visa program.
Michael Sherry, a spokesman for Progress For Maine, said in a statement that the New York company and Capital Seven, LLC, a Nevada company, are the only two companies involved and that David A. Wilson and Shawn Scott are principals of both.
And Capital Seven was the company that Scott used in 2003 when he persuaded Maine voters to allow slots at a Bangor facility. He later sold it without getting a casino license and it became Hollywood Casino.
Wilson links the California company to China and one of his associates ties into a Scott-linked company in Macau. David A. Wilson is the president of Koa. A company website translated from Chinese features a picture of him and a man named Robert Wessels.
In March, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in Hawaii said Wessels was leading a planned $1 billion project to build 2,300 homes, a golf course, shopping center and lodge for an affiliate of Bridge Capital that is in foreclosure for the second time.
Wessels also shows up in a 2013 federal court ruling in Nevada in a case by an engineering company against Sanum Investments, Ltd., a Macau company run by Bridge Capital and used to invest in a casino in Laos that was seized by the authoritarian government there in 2015.
According to that lawsuit, Wessels was the managing director of a company that was looking to build a resort in Macau and Japanese lawyer Toko Kobayashi was Sanum’s director.
Kobayashi donated to a 2016 Massachusetts campaign that Scott was involved in behind the scenes. Scott ended up being tied to a referendum bid for a casino in Massachusetts that failed with just 40 percent of votes in 2016, but not for a while.
Before the election, the effort’s frontman, developer Eugene McCain, told the Boston Globe that Scott wasn’t involved in the project, though he had joined him in scouting properties. But six days before the election, McCain’s political committee amended filings to illuminate the sources of $1.6 million in campaign contributions initially sourced to a Delaware company.
Of that, nearly $855,000 came from Regent Able Associate Co., a Japanese consulting company, $390,000 from Bridge Capital and $200,000 from Kobayashi, listed as a Regent Able developer. All of this violated state law, with the committee agreeing to $125,000 in penalties.
And the ethics investigation in Maine centers on $4.3 million initially attributed to Lisa Scott. All of it actually came from Bridge Capital and Regent Able. So, the backers may not have changed, but Scott looks to be taking a public-facing role where he didn’t before.
This post was updated on Aug. 17 to say Atlantic and Pacific Realty Capital is affiliated with and not controlled by Koa. It was an online sourcing error. It was also updated to remove an incorrect reference to Robert Wessels being an employee of Koa. It was a translation error. On Aug. 29, it was updated to call Koa a firm that operates in China.