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Anti-slots Group Has A Few Sizable Donors, Too

A group fighting the November ballot issue to bring slots to Maryland has fewer big-money donors than the group promoting the referendum. But some notable contributors have given significant sums to Marylanders United To Stop Slots, according to a report that became public today.

The top donor is James G. Robinson, a Baltimore movie producer who gave $75,000 to the anti-slots ballot-issue committee.

Robinson, whose credits include include "The Good Shepherd" and two "Ace Ventura" films, made news after the 2006 election for having given eye-popping sums to the campaigns of Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and Comptroller Peter Franchot (D).

Last October, while under investigation by the state prosecutor, Robinson agreed to a $119,000 fine for having greatly exceeded the contribution limits allowed under law.

As part of the episode, the campaigns of O'Malley and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), returned nearly $100,000 in contributions from companies controlled by Robinson. Franchot later returned $54,000. Franchot is now the most visible anti-slots advocate, while O'Malley is urging passage of the referendum.

Other notable anti-slots contributors include: Stewart W. Bainum Jr., a former Maryland legislator who is now chairman of Choice Hotels International Inc., who gave $55,000; and Ocean City restaurateur Hale Harrison, who donated $50,000. Harrison was among a handful of Ocean City business leaders who contributed and have voiced concerns about slots coming to the nearby Ocean Downs racetrack.

The anti-slots committee also reported receiving $20,000 from the DC Healthcare System, Inc.

The reports from both the anti-slots and pro-slots groups were due to the State Board of Elections by midnight Friday and were made public by the board this morning.

On Friday, the pro-slots group, For Maryland For Our Future, released a list of its major donors, which is dominated by gambling and horse-racing interests. Companies affiliated with two racetracks eligible for slots licenses -- Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County and Ocean Downs in Worcester County -- gave $2 million and $250,000, respectively.

The pro-slots group reported raising nearly $3.8 million, about nine times as much as raised by the anti-slots group.

By John Wagner  |  October 13, 2008; 11:14 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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