Casino backer funds no-same-sex marriage effort

The developer of National Harbor may have given supporters of same-sex marriage and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants an incentive to vote against expanded gambling by financing a Republican group's sample ballot opposing their causes.

State election records show that Peterson Cos., which wants to win approval of Question 7 to clear the way to locate a casino at National Harbor, gave $271,515 to a group called Republican Leaders Referendum Guide. The Maryland Juice web site reported that the money was used to produce a sample ballot opposing three ballot questions but supporting gambling expansion.

The three ballot questions it opposes are the same-sex marriage law, the Dream Act for immigrants and Gov. Martin O'Malley's congressional redistricting map. The map bears the pictures for former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and former state GOP Chairwoman Audrey Scott, two well-known Republicans who have endorsed Question 7.

Angela Sweeney, a spokeswoman for Peterson. said the company is not taking a position on any of the ballot questions other than 7. She noted tht FOR Maryland Jobs and Schools, a ballot committee to which Peterson has contributed, has helped finance Forward Maryland, which is advocating for for passage of all seven questions on the Maryland ballot.

This is not the first time the controversies over gambling and marriage have intersected. During the debate over the gambling bill in the General Assembly, Peterson rival Penn National Gaming financed a mailing against the legislation issued by a gay and lesbian organization that didn't want gambling on the same ballot.



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