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Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Posted 10:05 PM by

Slotsylvania GOP lawmakers: Let's have an inquiry, please

Stymied through normal channels, Republicans lawmakers are calling for a bipartisan committee to investigate the Louis DeNaples mess.Some Republican state representatives want a bipartisan committee with subpoena power to probe what the state Gaming Control Board knew and when in the licensing of slots parlor owner Louis DeNaples.

DeNaples, a Dunmore billionaire, was indicted Jan. 30 on four counts of perjury for allegedly lying to the board about his ties to two reputed mobsters and two political fixers. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Ditto with Gaming Control Board members, who claim they were never told state police were investigating DeNaples before they unanimously issued him a license on Dec. 20, 2006.

Their statements, however, appear to contradict testimony from Col. Jeffrey Miller, commander of the state police, who said the board should have known about the criminal investigation because its own privately-hired investigators were the ones who tipped the troopers to the possible perjury.

"We have two state agencies saying two diametrically opposed things," state Rep. Curt Schroder (R-Chester) told the Scranton Times-Tribune. He plans to introduce a bill to create the a 10-member special bipartisan committee as soon as lawmakers return to session from their Easter break on March 31.

Schroder and other Republicans lawmakers, including Doug Reichley of Lehigh, Mike Vereb of Montgomery and House Minority Leader Sam Smith of Punxsutawney, hope public pressure will force Democratic leaders to establish the committee or at least help them win enough rank-and-file votes from the other side to pass the resolution.

"What we are trying to do is restore the confidence of the public and the integrity of this (licensing) process," said Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, cousin to Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico Jr., who filed the perjury charges in January against DeNaples. "The whole process since the beginning of 2004 is in question."

Vereb agreed, telling the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Mount Airy has a cloud over it. This is a cancer, and we have to attack this cancer ever way possible."

The Republicans are critical of the House Gaming Oversight Committee Chairman Harold James (D-Philadelphia) for only taking up bingo bills during the past 14 months and House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), for not allowing more questioning of Gaming Board members during recent budget hearings.

However, they denied they are pursuing a political witch hunt designed to embarrass Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, a big backer of slots who received at least $115,000 in campaign contributions from DeNaples, or the gaming board, three of whose seven members Rendell selected.

Yet, Reichley said the onus is now on the majority because "The House Democratic leadership has shielded the Gaming Board from further inquiries."


For more about Louis DeNaples and to read my complete take on this long-predicted Slotsylvania snafu, click here.

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