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Possible $2 Million Donation to Support Md. Slots Sends Wrong Message

TO: The Citizens of Maryland

FROM: Ryan O'Donnell, Executive Director, Common Cause Maryland

BALTIMORE, Md., Sept. 17, 2008—The Maryland Racing Commission just announced a ban on performance-enhancing drugs for horses, but apparently the gambling industry sees no need to take their campaign contributions off steroids.

The possible $2 million gift to the slots-in-Maryland campaign from Magna Entertainment would be a staggering example of big business muscling in on what should be a democratic referendum decided by the people of Maryland. No one disputes that campaigns require a base level of funding to run, but a whopping $2 million transfer from an interested party like Magna would be hard to justify.

Accepting such a gift would not come without its transaction fees. It would send the signal that the deciders in this referendum are corporations who care about influence, not voters who care about issues.

Even the mere authorization of this political donation is yet more evidence that the time to take money of out politics has come.

The writer may be reached at

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This story was published on September 18, 2008.