By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun
2:52 PM EST, December 8, 2012
The campaign that won last month's referendum on expanded gambling spent almost $48 million, its share of the most expensive political fight in Maryland's history. But it but didn't provide much of a direct cash infusion to the state's economy.
"For Maryland Jobs and School – Vote Yes on 7," the ballot committee backed by pro-expansion casino companies led by MGM Resorts International, spent only 4 percent of that money on companies, nonprofits and individuals with Maryland addresses, according to its post-election report to the State Board of Elections.
It could be argued that the campaign was a boon for the regional economy, however, because $41,075,540 — or 86 percent of its spending — went to addresses in the District of Columbia.
The pro-Question 7 ballot committee's spending in Maryland was minuscule compared with that by the anti-expansion campaign backed by Penn National Gaming. It spent about three-quarters of its $44 million in the state.
The referendum passed 52 percent to 48 percent after a campaign in which total spending reached $95 million – more than the four previous gubernatorial races combined.
Some of the MGM-backed committee's spending in Washington would have reached Maryland indirectly, just as much of the Penn National spending in Maryland would have found its way to Washington. The largest single beneficiary of the For Maryland Jobs largesse was the media placement firm GMMB. It is Washington-based, but it bought many ads in the Baltimore radio-television market with the $34 million provided by MGM and its allies.
"Get the Facts – Vote No on 7," the Penn National committee, used a Towson-based media buyer.
Of the nearly $2 million the pro-expansion committee spent in Maryland, the largest single chunk, $650,000, was passed through to the ballot committee Forward Maryland, which advocated yes votes for all seven questions on the November ballot. That committee spent almost $1 million, about half in Maryland.
For Maryland Jobs spent $283,970 at Baltimore's Uptown Press for printing services. Post Haste Mailing in Annapolis got $200,900 for direct mail services. The Prince George's County Public Safety Coalition, a group that shares an address with a Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in Upper Marlboro, collected $200,000 for what were described as "field expenses."
Also benefiting to the tune of $184,415 was Kearney O'Doherty Public Affairs, a company co-founded by Steve Kearney, a former communications director for Gov. Martin O'Malley.
But all of the spending in Maryland totaled less than what went to California, which accounted for more than $3 million.
One of the more noteworthy items in the MGM-led committee's report is the $450,000 in "other expenses" that went to the corporate owner of the Washington Redskins, a team that plays in Maryland but is based in Virginia. The team endorsed Question 7.
At least one company that took part in the campaign is using the victory as a major bragging point. Washington-based Winning Connections, which received more than $3 million for its phone bank services, now uses the news of the Maryland victory as the first thing seen by a visitor to its web site.