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AG wants disclosure of riverboat casino money

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Non-profit and for-profit companies that receive riverboat casino revenue through economic development agreements should have to disclose how they spend the money, the Indiana Attorney General told lawmakers at a legislative committee meeting on Monday.

At its third meeting of the year, the interim Gaming Study Committee met to discuss several issues relating to gambling in Indiana, including a topic that ties in directly with ongoing litigation in both state and federal courts. Where riverboat casinos operate, state law requires that a local development agreement be set up so a portion of casino revenue is set aside and directed to fund local economic development projects to boost tourism. But disclosure for how that money is spent isn't currently required.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller testified before the 11-person committee about his continued push to require public disclosure by any corporation receiving this revenue through a statutory agreement. Deputy Attorney General David Miller also appeared. The AG's support for the transparency stems from the case of East Chicago Second Century, in which a for-profit company received 0.75 percent of the revenue from the city's riverboat casino - or $16 million over 10 years. The 1995 agreement was put in place by former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick, who is no longer in office.

New leadership in East Chicago canceled the Pastrick-era local development agreement, and the AG's office reports that approximately $6.3 million in revenue remained in escrow at the end of 2008. In the Pastrick case and the ongoing Second Century case in Marion Superior Court, the AG's office is trying to force open the books and impose a constructive trust over the corporation to create accountability.

Second Century got the case dismissed at the trial court and Indiana Court of Appeals levels, but in April the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state and revived the case, sending it back to Marion Superior to decide whether Second Century must make a public disclosure of how it spent casino revenue. "Beyond asking the trial court to impose a constructive trust on the Second Century organization and reform its operation, we are trying to pry open the long-closed financial books to find out who benefited from the $16 million Second Century received," Zoeller said. "We are asking the trial court to do that with Second Century, and we are asking the legislature to require that same public disclosure wherever casinos have Local Development Agreements with outside entities, not just in East Chicago."

A disclosure provision was inserted into House Bill 1514 during the General Assembly's regular 2009 session, but it was removed during conference committee negotiations in the final days of the session last April. The committee didn't take a vote on Monday, but AG spokesman Bryan Corbin said Zoeller hopes to see the disclosure language introduced again during the upcoming session.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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