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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