January 19, 2018
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Casino developer dodges legislative watchdog but pitches plan on radio

By Steve Mistler, Maine Public
Micky Bedell | BDN
Micky Bedell | BDN
David McKenzie signs a petition outside the garage at Pickering Square in Bangor for a 2016 referendum question to allow a casino in York County in a file photo.

In what is believed to be his first public appearance in Maine in several years, controversial casino developer Shawn Scott appeared on a local radio station on Wednesday to urge voters to authorize a York County casino.

Scott’s advocacy for Question 1 came on the same day that he and some of his associates were a no-show at a legislative hearing called to shed light on a heavily scrutinized campaign that’s under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission.

The Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee had invited Scott and his associates to answer questions about the campaign to pass Question 1. Committee members had received a detailed overview of the long trail of litigation, licensing problems and murky funding sources left by Scott and his partners as they pursued gambling development in the U.S. and across the globe.

Toward the end of Wednesday’s meeting, Chairman Roger Katz called their names.

“Just in case they’re out in the hall,” he said, “Is Shawn Scott here? Is Charlene Cushing here? Is Michael Sherry here? Is Alexis Fallon here? Is Stavros Mendros here? Is Cheryl Timberlake here? Is David Wilson here? No one is here.”

Some never responded to the invitation — but Scott and his business partner David Wilson did. Their lawyer, former Maine Attorney General Andrew Ketterer, sent a letter saying the committee could not compel his clients to attend and answer questions. And, given the politically charged nature of the meeting, Ketterer said his clients would not do so voluntarily.

Ketterer also wrote that Scott had no perspective or role in the York County campaign, and is just a financial contributor.

But while Scott has declined to talk to lawmakers or reporters in Maine, he did take to the airwaves to make a case for Question 1.

“We’re gonna see a huge amount of Maine money, and along with it the Maine jobs, moving down into Boston. So, of course the initiative process isn’t perfect. It’s far from perfect. But it’s the best tool we’ve got. And that process has brought us the two gaming facilities we have today,” Scott said.

Scott appeared on WLOB, a conservative commercial talk radio station covering part of southern Maine. He was not pressed on accusations that his associates have resisted the investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission, fighting subpoenas for bank records and other documents.

In fact, the Ethics Commission probe was sparked by the fact that Scott’s funding of the campaign was hidden for over a year. But it’s no secret that Scott will benefit if Question 1 passes, since he and the companies he controls are the only ones who can hold the gambling license if the proposal passes.

The last time Scott convinced Maine voters to award him a gambling license in Bangor, he sold it, netting a reported $51 million.

He was asked by WLOB host Ray Richardson if that was his plan if Question 1 passes.

“We want to be here for the long haul. We want to develop this project,” Scott said.

“But you did do that in Bangor,” Richardson said.

So far Scott’s opaque network of funding sources has dumped close to $6 million on Question 1. The license, if Maine voters approve it, will be worth an estimated $200 million.

This report appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

 


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