Are Iowa casinos' ties to out-of-state interests violating Iowa law?
A comment filed in this blog yesterday (August 1) suggests that may be the case.
I have no independent knowledge of the issues -- either the facts or the law. But I don't think the suggestions raised in the comment can just be laid to rest there and forgotten. They cry out for at least a preliminary investigation by journalists, legislators and the Iowa Attorney General. Following such investigations it may be that the law, or the facts, or both, will demonstrate that everything is above board. But, if not, some action is warranted.
In brief (and overly simplified summary) the comment suggests that Iowa law forbids out-of-state ownership, profiting, or employees of "Iowa" casinos. The full comment is appended to yesterday's (August 1) blog entry, "Leno, Losses and Rain Forests," or you can go to it directly here.
Among the questions it raises are these:
1. What does the Iowa law provide, in fact, with regard to out-of-state interests in "Iowa" casinos?
2. Is there any requirement that Iowa casinos file all legal documents -- ownership records, holders of loans and mortgages, management contracts, out-sourcing arrangements, leases, details regarding allocation of expenses and profits, and any other relevant documents -- with some public agency and are they available to the media and public under normal Freedom of Information Act requirements? Are they available online?
3. If not, how else is the law enforced (if, indeed, there is a law)?
4. Are there known violations of the law? If so, how have they been handled -- ignored or prosecuted?
5. How widespread are such violations as may exist? Have these violations now become normal business practice, or have there only been one or two instances of minor violations, quickly corrected?
6. Campaign contributions and lobbying expenses. Harrah's shows up as a campaign contributor and lobbyist. How many other out-of-state gaming industry representatives are involved in campaign contributions and lobbying of Iowa legislators? Which companies or investors are they? What names -- corporate and individual -- are used in reporting that are, in fact, representing gaming interests? How much have they contributed (individually and collectively) over, say, the last 10 years, and to which legislators? What legislation has come before the Iowa House and Senate in which these companies had a legislative interest? How did the recipients of their largesse vote on those bills?