Monday, July 18, 2005

Strippergate Scandal, sez sploid.
Two san diego councilpersons convicted for receiving campaign contributions.
Facts a bit unclear.

Jurors also convicted former Clark County, Nev., Commissioner Lance Malone, Gallardi's lobbyist in San Diego.

Legal experts have said that the case was unusual because it involved only campaign contributions, not allegations of cash under the table or other favors for personal use. Knowing the difficulty of persuading jurors that a contribution is a bribe, prosecutors often will not file charges unless they can point to money given for personal use.

My memory is less than perfect - was Malone involved in the Las Vegas Station casino anonymous flyer incident, in which Secretary of State Dean Heller extorted $500,000 from station casinos? In ACLU v Heller, it was shown Heller was acting illegally, but as far as I know he hasn't given the money back.

* The company also paid a $475,000 fine in Nevada in 2000 to settle a complaint the Nevada Gaming Control Board filed against Station for financing an anonymous campaign mailer. The mailer was aimed at a Clark County commissioner who had angered Station executives by voting in favor of a rival firm's development proposal after pledging to vote against it....
But Thomas also had other partners. They were Giuseppe Nicoli "Mr. Nick" Civella and Carl "the Cork" Civella, brothers and bosses of the La Cosa Nostra chapter in Kansas City.
The mailer featured a cartoon of Malone with his pockets stuffed with cash and a caption reading "You just can't trust Lance Malone," and was cited as a key factor in Malone's defeat.

In testimony before the board, Brown said Malone had voted in favor of a proposed project by a Station rival, after taking $40,000 in campaign contributions from Station and pledging to vote against the project.

Brown resigned from Station and the company settled a libel suit filed by Malone for an undisclosed amount. (Malone, who became a political consultant after his defeat, is currently the subject of an FBI probe into political corruption in Las Vegas and San Diego.)

The Bee's Steve Wiegand can be reached at (916) 321-1076 or swiegand@sacbee.com.

Station Casinos at a glance
Founded: 1976, with the opening of a 5,000-square-foot gambling hall called The Casino. It later became the Bingo Palace and finally Palace Station.

Properties: Owns and operates eight casino-hotels and has a half interest in two casino-hotels in the Las Vegas area.
Net revenues: $792.9 million in 2002
Assets: $1.6 billion
Work force: About 10,000
52-week stock high (May 20, 2002 -May 20, 2003): $23.95
52-week stock low: $11.21.

Neither Skancke nor Stations offered any apology. Skancke said Malone violated the public trust "and many of us felt the public should know." He said the flier was distributed anonymously "out of fear of retribution" from Malone, who has "tremendous power."

Station said, "As a community leader, we have a responsibility to speak out on issues, that, in our opinion, impact our company, our employees or the citizens of Clark County. In the future, our company's response to such issues will be expressed in a more direct manner."

Station owns five casinos in Clark County and two others out of state.

Malone could not be reached for comment Friday or this morning.

Malone initially said he would vote against an application by the Boyd Group to build a neighborhood casino in Spring Valley. Then he changed his mind and voted for it. Shortly after that the anonymous flier appeared noting Malone's earlier opposition to the project.

The document said, "Then he (Malone) took over $100,000 from companies that support more neighborhood casinos. And guess what? Commissioner Lance Malone went back on his word and voted for another new casino in an existing neighborhood."

The flier was printed by Passkey Systems Inc., which refused to divulge who paid for the work. Malone complained that a Nevada law requires campaign materials must identify who pays for the work. He filed suit in District Court in Las Vegas in an effort to smoke out the names behind the criticism.

"It's called plausible deniability, baby," Malone said.

update: malone and others face similar charges in las vegas.
San Diego now has a female acting mayor.

A few thoughts:
Malone has been convicted. All I know is what I've read in the papers, which may not tell the same story the jury heard. I think there may be serious issues on appeal, and that this is not yet a done deal.
I personally oppose the no-touching rule. I myself am a member of a club where quite a bit of touching goes on. A six-foot no-touching rule would significantly interfere with speech and expressive conduct. These rules have been upheld in some places, struck down in others.
In the apparent absense of a formal and explicit quid pro quo, it is problematic that the acting mayor is being convicted of accepting campaign contributions. The story hasn't said if his disclosure reports were complete an accurate.
My main interest in the story, of course, is the link to Secretary of State Heller's conduct in acting unlawfully to protect Malone. My views on this topic are perhaps unique; no one else seems to care or see this as an issue.

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