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."