For Maryland For Our Future, the pro-slots campaign group assembled by Gov. Martin O’Malley, claims on its web site to be:
“For Maryland For Our Future is a grassroots coalition of teachers, students, business owners, moms, dads and Marylanders from all walks of life dedicated to stronger schools and preventing future tax increases.”
The Baltimore City Paper questions that claim in terms of who’s paying for the $4-million campaign (it’s largely gaming corporations and race track owner Bill Rickman, who is likely to hold two slots licenses if voters approve slots.)
But how about the people running the campaign? Turns out they’re some of the Democratic party’s most veteran campaign organizers, with a good bit of experience trying to expand gambling in other states.
Craig Varoga, one of the lead consultants on the pro-slots campaign, ran a successful bid to ouster the former Republican governor of Kentucky, Ernie Fletcher, who opposed expanded gambling. The group he started, Bluegrass Freedom Fund, was an independent “527” with strong support from would-be casino owners in Kentucky, according to the group’s campaign filings.
Varoga also runs Patriot Majority, a national group organized to help Democrats win House and Senate races, and a handful of other interest groups, according to this investigative piece from NPR.
Varoga, and the O’Malley slots campaign have hired “Urban Projects, Inc.” to coordinate door-knocking and other get-out-the-vote operations for the slots measure, paying the group well over $1 million.