With the General Assembly set to reconvene Thursday for a special session on gambling, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) is calling on the governor and lawmakers to voluntarily disclose recent campaign contributions from national gaming companies.
“I believe there is mounting public suspicion that this latest special session is not about jobs, revenue or public investment, but rather an illustration of the corrosive effects of special interest money in our political system,” Franchot wrote in letters distributed Wednesday. “Such pervasive cynicism, left unaddressed, will further erode public confidence in our institutions of state government.”
Most lawmakers have not been required to file a campaign finance report since January.
Franchot, who is angling to run for governor in 2014, has little sway over other top Democrats in Annapolis. But he is not alone in his concern about the influence of gambling money on Maryland politics.
The expanded gambling bill proposed Tuesday night by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) would ban campaign contributions from casino owners and other gaming interests.
Franchot also uses his letter to air concerns about O’Malley’s proposal to authorize a new casino in Prince George’s County, noting there is already a large venue in neighboring Anne Arundel County and another one planned for Baltimore.
“We cannot ignore the very real possibility that three casinos, located within an hour’s drive of one another, will cannibalize one another and jeopardize the viability of the state’s entire program,” Franchot wrote.
Franchot also questions the necessity of a special session on gambling when other Maryland industries are struggling, including seafood harvesting, agriculture, manufacturing and defense.