"What's black and white and read all over?"

Monday, February 18, 2008
Posted 11:20 PM by

Pa. gambling interests spent more than $2.6M lobbying in '07

Which gambling-related companies are still lobbying in Slotsylvania? Click on this image to find out.Gambling interests in Pennsylvania spent at least $2.6 million last year to sway state lawmakers and Gov. Ed Rendell's administration, according to the state's own records.

I say at least, because state officials have done their best to hide this information from the public without being drummed out of office for failing to disclose it.

So, they did the next best thing, they obfuscated, burying those expenses in with perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars that companies with other interests spent last year to influence Harrisburg.

The $2,628,898 in lobbying expenses I calculated tonight came from the state's lobbying expenditure database and I'm sure represent a large portion, but not all, of the money spent last year solely by companies with gambling interests.

I used the state Senate's old lobbying database, which named the companies who lobbied for gambling-related reasons in 2003 to 2006. I then looked those companies up in the new state lobbying expenditure database, which covers both the House and the Senate as well as Rendell's administration.

In the process, I found three new entities with gambling interests that spent money lobbying last year but not the year before, which are denoted in this chart with an asterisk. They are:

  • Casino Free Philadelphia, a not-for-profit corporation, spent $55,160 on lobbying in 2007 hoping to defeat the casinos planned for the city.

  • Harrah's Operating Co., Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Harrah's Entertainment, which has stopped lobbying under that name in the state. It spent $122,200 last year lobbying.

  • The Pennsylvania Family Council shares the same Web site and president as the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which no longer lobbies in the state under that name. It spent $208,111, but like many of the lobbying companies whose expense reports I checked today, it did not name the reasons why.

    PFC's Web site, however, currently features a link to the same story I ranted about Sunday, namely a Citizen's Voice article that says lobbyists for holders and seekers of casino licenses spent nearly $1.7 million last year to influence state lawmakers.

I knew the $1.7 million was only the tip of the iceberg. The only question now is how much bigger and dangerous is it below the surface?

I was going to include the chart of lobbying expense in this post, but Blogger just about had a heart attack at the complexity of the table. Instead, you just have to click here.

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