Anti-Gambling Group Opposes Perez Nomination
A national anti-gambling group is expressing opposition to the nomination of Maryland labor secretary Thomas E. Perez to head the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.
Perez, Gov. Martin O'Malley's secretary of labor, licensing and regulation, played a role in crafting the governor's arguments for legalizing slot machines in Maryland in advance of last fall's referendum. A 2007 report produced by Perez detailed revenue that Maryland is losing to surrounding states where slot machines are already operating and made the case that the unlevel playing field is hurting the Maryland's horse-racing industry.
"Like most Americans, we strongly believe any nominee to lead our country's Civil Rights Division must reflect an unvarnished commitment to equal citizenship," says a letter sent this week by Stop Predatory Gambling to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which today held a confirmation hearing on Perez's nomination. "Because of Mr. Perez's leadership role with the Maryland effort to promote slot machines as a source of funding public services, he comes up short of that standard."
According to the group, "equal citizenship" is "the core democratic principle that binds us the strongest."
"In America, we do not have kings or queens," the letter says, "because all blood is considered royal. State-sponsored predatory gambling, the practice of using gambling to prey on human weakness for profit, blatantly violates the principle of equal citizenship. We are creating addicted, out-of-control gamblers in order to provide a small number of schemers an obscene level of unearned power and wealth, all in the name of getting someone else to pay our taxes."
The letter is signed by 18 anti-gambling activists, including two from Maryland: Aaron Meisner, chairman of Stop Slots Maryland; and Barbara Knickelbein, co-chairwoman of NOcasiNo-Maryland.
A Perez aide pointed to more than 60 letters of support that Perez's nomination has received.
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