The MoJo Wire

July 21 - 27, 1998
on the MoJo Wire:

MoJo Update: Pesticide Dumping Continues
In the Clinton era, U.S. dumping of hazardous pesticides overseas has gotten worse. Sen. Patrick Leahy thinks he has the solution.

Holy Smoke!
The Virgin Mary was a Marlboro woman— and other outrageous tactics Big Tobacco uses to sell cigarettes abroad.

Exotic Schooling
Teach high school in Belize—the snorkeling and hiking is optional.

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A Stacked Deck

by April Lynch

  • April Lynch, who conducted the gambling study for Mother Jones, is a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.

    June 9, 1997

    With 50 different sets of campaign finance and lobbyist expenditure reporting laws across the country, pinning down a national figure for the gambling industry's political spending is about as easy as getting a royal flush at the poker table.

    Some states, such as Washington, Florida, Arizona, and New York, have begun reporting political contributions or lobbying stats online for easy public access (Although some of them seem more concerned with fancy animated graphics than complete records). In other states, such as Illinois or California, advocacy groups or private firms have put such data within the reach of computer users, though sometimes for a price. A few states, such as Ohio, do not yet have their political spending information on the Web but will send it out on disk for a nominal fee, though their formatting often leaves something to be desired.

    But most states cling to hard copy records, available only in the state capitol, so getting the information means sorting through a mountain of paper and paying copying fees that can range from 25 cents to $1 per page. Then there are the states where these mountains of paper signify nothing. In Nevada, for example, the state will gladly mail lobbyist expenditure records, but since the lobbyists are only required to file reports when the Legislature is in session -- six out of every 24 months -- the books contain neat columns of zeros (view a sample page).

    A few things to keep in mind while browsing our state profiles:

  • In those states where we have databases, the total for the state often doesn't match the total reported by the database. That is a result of states not having their campaign finance information available electronically.

  • Even when record-keeping is up to par, lax disclosure laws insure that no study can ever include all contributions. In Mississippi, for instance, contributors aren't entered on the records if they give less than $500.01.

    In the end, Mother Jones looked at political spending in 32 states where gaming is a big political player, using campaign finance Web sites, reports from state officials, studies by public policy groups and local news sources. Given the limitations and inconsistencies detailed above, it's not surprising that the investigation found only $100 million -- a conservative figure.

    "Heavy Betting"

  • Web Exclusives:

    Heavy Betting
    An exclusive investigation of the gambling industry's state-by-state political contributions.

    Across State Lines
    Track gambling interests political contributions across 11 states .

    Ea$y Money: The Documentary
    See exclusive video clips from the FRONTLINE and Mother Jones Television co-production.

    Fun Facts
    Test your knowledge about gambling.

    From the Magazine:

    Ea$y Money
    With exploding profits, the gambling industry is investing in politics.

    All Bets Are Off
    Citizens groups have won some key battles in the gambling wars.

    World Wide Wagering
    On the Internet, it's already possible to lose your shirt from your desktop, and more gambling sites are in the works.

    See Hot!media for more resources.

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