The Washington Post

Former anti-slots lobbyist aiding National Harbor in casino quest

An aerial view of National Harbor. (Courtesy of Peter Fellows)

Late last month, Carter registered as a contract lobbyist for the Peterson Cos., the developer of National Harbor, where Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) would like to see an upscale venue featuring slots, table games and other amenities.

That vision requires state legislation allowing a sixth casino in Maryland, as well as other changes to the state’s gambling program.

In 2008, when voters authorized the Maryland’s first five casinos, Carter described the loss at the ballot box as a “bitter defeat.” He had spent several years lobbying for StopSlotsMaryland, a group that successfully fought attempts to launch a slots program during the tenure of former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

“Gambling doesn’t achieve anything,” Carter told reporters at one point during that stretch. “All it does is take your money.”

In a brief interview last week, Carter said he does not see his work on behalf of Peterson as inconsistent with his past advocacy.

“I’ve said all along, if we’re every going to do this, we should do it at a destination site like National Harbor,” Carter said.

Peterson has already signed up Timothy Perry, one of the top lobbyists in Annapolis, to further its interests. Perry is a former chief of staff to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert).

Carter’s strongest relationships are in the House of Delegates.

The idea of bringing a casino to Prince George’s faces staunch opposition from the developer of Maryland Live!, a casino scheduled to open in June in neighboring Anne Arundel County.

Baker has also yet to sell several outspoken members of the Prince George’s legislative delegation on the issue.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.



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