Ghiz, Casino Backer, Sues to Stop Casinos

Call it a case of karma, says Cincinnati City Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz.

Ghiz filed a lawsuit today against Ohio Learn and Earn, a political action committee seeking voter approval to allow two slot machine casinos in Cleveland and up to seven others at horse racing tracks throughout the state.

Ghiz’s lawsuit alleges that Ohio Learn and Earn misrepresented its primary purpose when it submitted its petition language to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office in May. The petition lists the proposed state amendment’s purpose as establishing a scholarship program and doesn’t refer to the casinos that would be allowed as its funding method. The tactic allows Ohio Learn and Earn to use “false, misleading and deceptive conduct” when it collects voter signatures on the petitions, the lawsuit states.

The PAC faces an Aug. 7 deadline to collect 323,000 signatures from registered voters to place the issue on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Also, the lawsuit alleges that Washington, D.C.-based FieldWorks LLC, the firm hired to collect signatures, failed to register as a company doing business in Ohio; and the petitions don’t disclose that Ohio Learn and Earn is paying for the effort, a disclosure required by state law.

Ghiz’s lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction barring Ohio Learn and Earn from collecting signatures using the current wording. A hearing in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court hasn’t yet been scheduled.

Initially, Cincinnati was included in the ballot language but later was excluded due to what Ghiz describes as “outside pressure from special interests.” One of the PAC’s backers is Penn National Gaming, owner of Argosy Casino in nearby Lawrenceburg, Ind. Argosy’s profits could suffer if slot parlors are allowed in Cincinnati, according to Ghiz.

Earlier this year, Ghiz mounted her own petition drive to add Cincinnati to the state proposal. It was dropped, however, after legal challenges by Ohio Learn and Earn and the looming deadline to make the ballot.

The lawsuit was partially inspired by the tactics Ohio Learn and Earn used against the local effort, Ghiz says.

“Turnabout is fair play,” she says. “I didn’t know about this stuff until they did it to us to keep us off the ballot. That made me go and research exactly what the law says.”

Ghiz calls the petition effort “underhanded,” adding, “They’re lying to our voters, at least in this area of the state.”

— Kevin Osborne

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2 Comments on “Ghiz, Casino Backer, Sues to Stop Casinos”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    You go girl!

  2. Representative Tyrone K. Yates Says:

    Councilwoman Ghiz is correct. The ballot signature collector that I experienced never disclosed the gambling aspects of the issues through a series of six direct questions I asked him at the corner of Main and 6th Street downtown less than two weeks ago.
    Stay your course.

    Representative Tyrone K. Yates (District 33)

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