V.I. Attorney General Claude Walker announced Friday that his office has concluded VIGL did not make political contributions to candidates during the 2016 election cycle.
“We conducted a thorough investigation, which included speaking to a number of persons, including representatives of the regulated entity and its consultant, and we found no credible evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever,” Walker said in a statement.
In November 2016, the Legislature approved legislation and contracts negotiated by Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s administration giving VIGL a long-term exclusive franchise to run the territory’s two horse tracks and put slot machine parlors at the tracks. The agreement requires VIGL to invest $27 million in improvements to the tracks.
Days before the votes took place, the Source reported that Front Row Associates, whose president is the wife of VIGL local consultant Jack Hearon, had given campaign donations to several senators, in apparent violation of V.I. law. (See “Gaming Company Gaming Legislature?” in Related Links below.)
Family members of casino agents or intermediaries are not specifically enumerated in the V.I. statute prohibiting campaign contributions from casino owners or principals, employees, agents or intermediaries, but, according to the V.I. Casino and Resort Control Act, any direct or indirect contributions from VIGL would be.
According to the law, “no applicant for or holder of a casino license, nor any holding, intermediary or subsidiary company thereof, or any officer, director, casino key employer, or principal employee of an applicant or holder of a casino license or of any holding, intermediary or subsidiary company thereof, nor any person or agent on behalf of any applicant, holder, company or person, shall directly or indirectly, pay or contribute any money or thing of value to any candidate for nomination or election to any public office in the territory, or to any committee of any political party in this territory, or any group, committee or association organized in support of any such candidate or political party.”
Walker confirmed there was an investigation into the donations during a June 15 legislative committee hearing.
Walker’s statement Friday referred to allegations made in May in the Daily News that VIGL gave thousands of dollars to candidates during the 2016 election cycle. He said V.I. law would prohibit VIGL from making any political contributions but asserted that they did not make any.
Walker said the Division of Gaming Enforcement “did not uncover evidence of any check drawn from any account in the name of VIGL that was given to any candidate. Further, there was no evidence that any of the contributions that the candidates received were made at the direction of or on behalf of VIGL.”
He said the Division of Gaming Enforcement reached this conclusion after reviewing “hundreds of pages of documents and interviewed several persons to determine whether any violation of the law occurred.”