Washington Babylon — September 28, 2008, 10:48 am

McCain Cronies Hit Jackpot with Gtech

“As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America’s casinos,” the New York Times reported today in a piece that detailed the close ties between Senator John McCain’s chief campaign aides and the Indian gambling business. The Times said that McCain has distanced himself from tribal casinos in recent years as public opposition to the industry grew, but “he has rarely wavered in his loyalty to Las Vegas, where he counts casino executives among his close friends and most prolific fund-raisers.”

A number of McCain’s cronies, several whom were mentioned in the Times story, have ties to another gambling behemoth: Gtech, which is heavily involved in state lotteries and online gaming. Gtech and a firm called Scientific Games dominate the lottery business, which “flourishes at the crossroads of capitalism and public policy,” according to another Times story from last fall. The two companies have “evolved from minor suppliers into an influential oligopoly,” the story said. “Gtech and Scientific Games have done more than just ride the gambling boom — they have strong-armed their way to the top of a publicly sponsored industry that they now dominate.”

To grease its path, Gtech has hired a slew of McCain’s closest aides and advisors. Since 1999, the firm has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to BKSH & Associates, whose chairman until earlier this year was senior McCain advisor Charlie Black, Jr. Black, who left BKSH after it was reported that he was lobbying for clients from the McCain bus, worked on the Gtech account until last year.

Rick Davis, who may or may nor have “separated” himself from the firm of Davis, Manafort in 2006, is another one-time Gtech lobbyist. Between 1999 and 2001, Davis, Manafort was paid $90,000 to represent the gambling company. Davis was the sole lobbyist on the account. For part of that period, Davis was running McCain’s 2000 run for the GOP nomination

Scott Reed, the well-known GOP operative and McCain confidante, has been a Gtech lobbyist too. His firm, Chesapeake Enterprises, was paid more than $100,00 by the firm between 1999 and 2004. (Incidentally, it was Reed who suggested to McCain that he hire Davis as his campaign chairman back in 2000.)

And there’s more. Doug Davenport was a McCain regional campaign manager until earlier this year, when he quit because his firm DCI was revealed to have once lobbied for the Burmese junta. DCI has represented Gtech since 2001 and Davenport worked on the account for almost that entire period.

There’s only one more lobbying firm that’s ever filed to represent Gtech: Cartwright & Riley, which has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to work for the firm in Washington and in California. The sole lobbyist on the federal account is Russell Cartwright, a former senate aide who previously worked for Charlie Black. Cartwright’s and Black’s names surfaced during the HUD scandal of the 1980s.

It’s curious that so many of McCain’s top cronies (and their cronies) have lobbied for Gtech. Indeed, Gtech seems to have awarded the senator’s friends a monopoly on its lucrative lobbying work. The firm will certainly be in good shape to expand its business if McCain were to win in November.

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

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