Three of Four Casino Campaign PACs Fail to Meet Finance Reports Deadline

Jul 18, 2017

Three of the four political action committees supporting a controversial casino campaign have failed to meet Monday's deadline to file updated finance reports with the state. 

All three of the committees are connected to Miami resident Lisa Scott.

Each was required to file new finance reports by midnight on Monday. But according to staff at the Maine Ethics Commission, only one of the committees filed on time.

The failure to meet the deadline is the latest twist in a casino campaign that's been dogged by controversy at nearly every turn.

The entire operation is already under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission for not revealing the sources of over $4 million in contributions until April. The latest reports show a web of domestic and offshore investment companies are funding the campaign - all with ties to Shawn Scott.

Lisa Scott is the sister of Shawn Scott, a casino developer who brought gambling to Bangor in 2003 and who has left a trail of litigation across the country ever since.

The casino proposal is expected to go to voters in November. It is written so that only Shawn Scott can obtain a license for the facilty.

According to Paul Lavin, assistant director of the commission, the committees have received notice that they haven't filed. Lavin said the penalty for late filings will depend on the financial activity included in the yet-to-be disclosed reports.

If all three committees report no new activity, there will not be a fine, but the late filing could count against the committees if there's additional late filings.

Phone calls to the three committees - International Development Concepts LLC, Lisa Scott and Miami Development Concepts - were not immediately returned.

Last week the Maine Ethics Commission took a series of votes Friday to modify its request for correspondence and bank records from several political committees funding the $4 million casino campaign.

The votes effectively push back deadlines for recently disclosed funders to respond to subpoenas issued by the commission in mid-June.

The subpoenas were sent to Cheryl Timberlake, the treasurer of the Horseracing Jobs Fairness ballot question committee, and Lisa Scott, who until April appeared to be the only person funding the Horseracing Jobs Fairness campaign.

They were also sent to Bridge Capital LLC, an offshore investment firm in the Mariana Islands associated with Shawn Scott and Capital Seven LLC, another investment firm located in Las Vegas.

The commission is investigating whether Lisa Scott and the other organizations have fully disclosed their sources of funding for the Maine ballot campaign. The commission is also weighing whether the Horseracing Jobs Fairness campaign, which has operated for well over a year, should be hit with a hefty fine because it didn't disclose other funding sources until April.

A shadow has loomed over the casino campaign since it began late in 2015.

Scott first brought gambling to Bangor in 2003 after convincing voters to approve a facility in a referendum. A trail of litigation has followed Scott ever since. Last year groups associated with him were fined by Massachusetts regulators for hiding his involvement in a failed bid to convince voters in Massachusettes to build a gambling operation in Suffolk Downs.

Several of the groups associated with the Massachusetts referendum surfaced when the Horseracing Jobs Fairness campaign modified its finance reports in April amid scrutiny from state lawmakers and the Ethics Commission. The updated disclosure revealed for the first time that Lisa Scott is not the only one financing a campaign that has operated well outside the norms of traditional ballot initiatives.

The Ethics Commission launched an investigation into the campaign in mid-June, issuing subpoenas at the same time. Bruce Merrill, an attorney representing Lisa Scott, refused to accept the subpoenas after the commission's June meeting, saying he wasn't authorized to do so.

Since then the commission has struggled to get Lisa Scott to accept the subpoena for records. According to a memo by ethics staff, it sent the subpoena to the three addresses provided by Scott in the updated finance reports. None were accepted at the Las Vegas address she provided or the two Miami, Fla., addresses she disclosed in April.

Merrill, who attended the meeting, on Friday, agreed to accept the subpoena in exchange for a modified timeline to turn over the records or object to them. Scott now has until Aug. 4 to object to any of the records requested and until Sept. 1 to turn them over.

The five-member commission also appears ready to subpoena Lisa Scott to testify under oath.

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