Schroder, O’Brien Lead Bipartisan Effort to Keep Gaming Contributions Out of Politics

Member Group : News Releases

Rep. Curt Schroder (R-155)
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Donna M. Pinkham
(717) 260-6452
Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-175)
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Barbara Grill
(717) 787-7895

May 4, 2009

HARRISBURG – Rep. Curt Schroder (R-Chester County) and Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-Philadelphia) are asking the General Assembly to support a self-imposed moratorium on the acceptance of gaming contributions to political campaigns until legislation can be enacted to restore a state ban on such contributions.

"Last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court once again sided with gaming interests in overturning a state law that had prohibited the intermingling of gaming contributions and politics," said Schroder. "The court based its decision on the presence of the word ‘large,’ which referred to contributions in the preamble to the legislation. The law itself specifically banned ‘all’ political campaign contributions by gaming interests. A total ban was the clear intent of the General Assembly.

"The court chose to follow form over substance when it gave more importance to the non-binding legislative intent section over the actual statutory provision," said Schroder. "The ban was written in clear, unambiguous language, and therefore, the court violated rules of statutory construction by using preliminary language to declare the law unconstitutional. In light of the court’s ruling, Representative O’Brien and I will jointly introduce House Bill 1440, which is the same legislation that passed previously – with one omission. We will drop the offending word ‘large.’"

"The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has issued 18 straight rulings in favor of gaming interests," said O’Brien. "To date, there have been no rulings by the court against gaming interests. During this time, the Legislature’s intent has consistently been to keep gaming out of politics. Now we’re asking our colleagues to exercise restraint and reject gaming contributions while we work to restore this important piece of legislation."

O’Brien and Schroder both serve on the House Gaming Oversight Committee. As Republican chairman of that committee, Schroder said he is pleased to have O’Brien’s support.

"Representative O’Brien’s leadership on this issue further demonstrates the bipartisan nature of this issue," said Schroder. "We both adamantly agree that it is in the public’s interest to keep gaming money and influence out of our political campaigns."