Reporting Pat Warren
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– Governor Martin O’Malley is stepping into the expanded gambling campaign to challenge the ads that urge voters to defeat the referendum.
Political reporter Pat Warren explains O’Malley says the Vote No campaign ads are false.
Governor O’Malley has seen the Vote No ads.
“Millions of dollars for new schools and teachers. But not really,” the Vote No ads say.
“Complete lie that Penn is perpetuating,” O’Malley said. “Total falsehood for them to say that we are not investing more in education.”
The Vote No campaign casts doubt on the promise that money from expanded gambling will be used for education.
“You know damn well that the biggest driver in our budget is increased funding for education and for these out-of-town, slick folks with their big money to say otherwise, total hogwash,” he said.
Penn National Gaming Inc., which operates the Hollywood Casino in Perryville and owns a casino in West Virginia, is pouring millions into the Vote No campaign. The governor says it’s trying to protect itself from competition.
“We know what the game is,” O’Malley said.
“I don’t know why Penn National is in here,” Forest Heights Mayor Jacqueline Goodall said.
For Goodall, the motive for the Penn National ads is less important than the effect.
“We did not have a voice and now we have a voice,” she said.
Political analyst Richard Vatz says voters should look for the voice of truth.
“I think it is legitimate to say that Penn is subsidizing ads that feather its own nest,” he said. “I don’t think the governor can be faulted. I think that it is true, but of course, that’s true on all sides. All sides are feathering their own nest.”
What’s also true is the Vote Yes campaign is also funded by gambling interests, primarily MGM Grand that wants to build the casino at the National Harbor.
“Do you want Maryland dollars to continue to support the West Virginia casinos? Or do you want those dollars to stay here?” O’Malley asked.
At $32 million, the expanded gambling campaign is the most expensive in Maryland history and there are still four weeks to go.
WJZ‘s request for a comment from the Vote No campaign was not answered.