A million dollars a vote

Sometimes I am so naive that it is embarrassing. In contrast to the jaded reporters that are constantly holding up the tainted careers of business people, politicians and lobbyists, I can’t believe that anyone is really that bad or blatantly sets out to be corrupt, illegal and immoral.  Even the Jack Abramoff scandal didn’t seem possible to me.  The first time I heard of Casino Jack was before the story really broke, a reporter from the Village Voice called me.  I was really flattered to finally have an opportunity to be in the Voice, but I couldn’t help much with the story.  Although I had a good background in Indian gaming, I had no knowledge of Abramoff or his mis-deeds.  The reporter was relentless with her acusations, she was certain she had a really bad guy in her sights and she was out to get him.  Well, as it turns out, she was right.  Now, there is even a movie about Casino Jack and his crimes, today he is selling pizza and one would guess humbled.

This week there have been a couple of stories of corruption and greed; in Michigan an Indian tribe was awarded 18 million dollars from a company that ten years ago had a contract for $500,000 but ended up billing (and collecting) the tribe for $12 million with the help of a couple of tribal officials.  In Nevada a casino owner is suing a bank, saying it (with the help of two corrupt bank officers) managed to take 6 of his casino properties and sell them to an “insider” – a friend of the officials – for a nominal price; he was behind on his payments and the casinos were sold. There is no proof of any crime, but it will take a court to sort out the details.

But the winner for the most corrupt person of the week goes to a lobbyists in Alabama – Jarrod Massey has admitted that he offered a million dollars to a state lawmaker for a favorable vote authorizing a type of slot machine in Alabama.  Massey did not say if anyone took him up on his offer, but there are ten other defendants in the case, several of which are lawmakers – doesn’t bode well for the integrity of lawmaking in Alabama. The others were people with interests in operating casinos in the state. The legislation did not pass, the casinos have all closed and now it looks like there will not be new legislation next year, no one wants to be tarred with that brush.

Even with all of the evidence, I am still dumbfounded every time- are there really people who will do anything to get their own way and make a dollar?  I don’ think I am above taking the money, no one has ever offered me a million dollars for my vote – thank god, I hate to think what I might have done. What an embarrassing way to end a life-time of working, for both the guy offering the one taking.  For some, the rewards seem to justify the risk – or are they so arrogant that they think the rest of the world is too stupid to catch on and there is no risk?


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December 2010
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