Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino owner Stan Fulton is continuing his admitted pay-to-play campaign against the proposed Anthony casino.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported today that Fulton gave $100,000 last month to the Democratic Governors Association, which is chaired by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and frequently pays for his out-of-state travel.
The proposal by the Jemez Pueblo and Santa Fe art dealer Gerald Peters to build the casino in Anthony became public in August 2004. Since then, Fulton has been on an admitted campaign to buy opposition to the casino.
He started by giving $1 million to the Gadsden Independent School District while a newspaper photographer and I watched. He then announced that he would give New Mexico State University half ownership of his racetrack and casino when he died – an estimated $10 million annually – but only if there are no other casinos built in an area that includes the Jemez proposal. That put significant pressure on the university president, regents, local politicians and governor.
It was then that Fulton, responding to a question I asked, admitted he was trying to buy support.
“We play to win,” he said. “This is a battle, and we’re going to look at it like a battle.”
To be fair, Fulton has been giving big money to NMSU and the Gadsden schools for years. The provision in his will granting half the racetrack to NMSU upon his death existed before the Anthony proposal was announced, but after it was announced Fulton amended his will to include the requirement that there not be another casino built nearby.
The Anthony casino needs approval from the U.S. Department of Interior and Richardson.
Fulton continued his campaign against the casino last year with gifts totaling $125,000 to a political action committee formed by Attorney General Patricia Madrid. Madrid had been asked to issue an opinion on the legality of an agreement Doña Ana County entered into with the Jemez to provide services to the casino.
Weeks after a $25,000 contribution from Fulton, Madrid said the agreement was illegal. Shortly after she issued her opinion, Fulton gave Madrid’s political action committee an additional $100,000.
Though Richardson and Madrid are both Democrats, Fulton is a strong Republican, and he’s fighting on that front as well.
He has given $7,000 to Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., and his political action committee. Pombo is one of the leaders of the move in Congress to limit or ban off-reservation gaming.
He gave $5,000 to a political action committee formed by Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., who has expressed concerns about the Jemez proposal.
He gave $5,000 to Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., who has also expressed concerns about the casino.
In addition, Fulton’s racetrack and casino recently hosted a fundraiser for Richardson.
Some might ask, what about Peters? Well, he gave more than $137,000 to Richardson’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign, long before the casino proposal existed. I could find records indicating that he has given money to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish since the proposal became public, but the amount of money he’s given politicos is dwarfed by Fulton’s gifts.
Peters also pledged, as part of the agreement with Doña Ana County, to put millions into a community foundation, but that will benefit residents, not the campaigns of politicians.
Unlike Fulton, Peters has not said publicly he’s fighting a pay-to-play war.
Which doesn’t mean he’s not. But we can be certain that’s what Fulton is doing, because he said so.
So here’s what I’m asking: All who have taken money from Fulton since he admitted publicly he was trying to buy their support should give him back his money. That includes Richardson, Madrid, Pombo, Domenici, and Pearce.
He has made clear that he’s trying to buy your support. What sort of appearance exists when you respond by taking his money?
Prove that you’re not part of the pay-to-play system.