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For week ended August 15, 1999 Posted 29 Aug 1999

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Casino operators donate to Bennett

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Casino operators donate to Bennett
Deseret News 14Aug99 L1
By Lee Davidson: Deseret News Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC - New financial disclosure forms filed by Utah Senator Bob Bennett, who is a former LDS Bishop, indicate that he traveled to Las Vegas last April to accept donations from casino-related organizations. The disclosure forms indicate that fully 90 percent, $17,500, of the donations he received in the first half of 1999 were from Nevada. The largest donations came from casino-sponsored political action committees, including the Station Casinos, Inc. PAC the Mirage Resort, Inc. PAC and the Circus Circus Enterprises PAC.

Bennett says he considers the donations to be from hotel companies rather than casino operators, and says he wouldn't accept donations from casinos themselves. "I would be nervous if an absolutely pure casino company came to me and gave money. But I don't know of any of those," he said. Bennett also says it is difficult to figure out who to exclude, "Where do you draw the line?" he says refering to groups involved in vices. "I don't take money from Coors beer. But I do from the Marriotts who serve Coors beer (at bars in Marriott hotels). In fact, they serve a lot of stuff stronger than beer."

Meghan Holbrook, chairwoman of the Utah Democratic Party says that this logic is very convenient, "It's my experience that if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck," she said. "Orrin Hatch doesn't drink, and he takes money from beer distributors. So does Merrill Cook. It's amazing how convenient it all is. We need to have some kind of campaign finance reform. I think you would see a different kind of people in office."

Bennett says he turns down money from groups where vices are "the principal business, such as beer distributors. He says he has even done this with some beer makers that have strong secondary businesses, such as Anheuser Busch, which also owns amusement parks.

But regardless of the donations, Bennett says his stand on gambling is clear, "I am opposed to it."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information