Syverson donors, business partner win big in Rockford casino deal

Syverson donors, business partner win big in Rockford casino deal


COMPETED FOR A CHANCE TO BUILD AND OPERATE THE CASINO PROJECT IN ROCKFORD — BUT THE CITY ONLY APPROVED ONE COMPANY FOR THE JOB. ((PAUL)) OUR ‘TARGET 3’ INVESTIGATION REVEALS THAT COMPANY HAS FINANCIAL AND POLITICAL TIES TO A STATE SENATOR WHO HELPED WRITE THE GAMING BILL. AND TONIGHT — ONE OF THE DEVELOPERS WHO LOST TELLS US IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW THAT SENATOR LOBBIED AGGRESSIVELY AGAINST HIS BID TO HELP HIS FRIENDS. W-C-I-A 3’s CAPITOL BUREAU CHIEF MARK MAXWELL IS LIVE IN SPRINGFIELD. MARK — THIS SCRUTINY COMES AT A TIME WHEN STATE LAWMAKERS ARE DEBATING WHETHER THEY SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO LOBBY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. ((MARK)) RECORDS OBTAINED UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT DO SHOW SENATOR DAVE SYVERSON WAS IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS RIGHT UP UNTIL THE CITY GAVE ITS STAMP OF APPROVAL TO ONE COMPANY — WHEN IT COULD’VE APPROVED MORE. SYVERSON INSISTS HE WASN’T LOBBYING — BECAUSE HE WASN’T DIRECTLY PAID. BUT HIS DONORS AND BUSINESS PARTNERS HAD A LOT AT STAKE, AND AFTER HIS WORK WAS DONE IN SPRINGFIELD, HE WENT BACK HOME AND WENT TO BAT FOR THEM. “This key piece of legislation… SENATOR DAVE SYVERSON LED THE CHARGE FOR REPUBLICANS TO PROMOTE SIX NEW CASINOS, WITH A LOT RIDING ON THE LINE IN HIS HOME TOWN OF ROCKFORD. “…thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars of construction…” ONE OF THOSE CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES — RINGLAND JOHNSON — IS OWNED BY BRENT JOHNSON, ONE OF SYVERSON’S BIGGEST CAMPAIGN DONORS, WHO INVESTED IN THE HARD ROCK CASINO, AND IS IN LINE TO WIN THE CONTRACT TO BUILD IT IF THE GAMING BOARD AWARDS HARD ROCK A LICENSE JOHNSON AND HIS TRUST COMBINED TO DONATE MORE THAN $96 THOUSAND DOLLARS TO SYVERSON CAMPAIGN FUND. SYVERSON’S BUSINESS PARTNER RICK NIELSEN BACKED THE HARD ROCK BID. THE ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME MUSICIAN FROM CHEAP TRICK OWNS A SHARE OF THE STOCKHOLM INN WITH SYVERSON. HIS SPOUSE IS LISTED AS A CASINO INVESTOR. Are you a business partner with Senator Syverson, or how would you describe it? RICK NIELSEN He just the eye candy. NIELSEN LOBBIED STATE LAWMAKERS TO GIVE ROCKFORD A CASINO — AND WHEN THEY DID, SYVERSON RETURNED HOME AND STARTED WORKING LOCAL OFFICIALS. AT A COUNTY MEETING IN AUGUST, SYVERSON PASSED OUT COPIES OF THIS MAP HE PRINTED OFF THE INTERNET, WITH HAND WRITTEN NOTES, AS EVIDENCE THE COUNTY SHOULD SUPPORT THE CASINO BID NEAR THE HIGHWAY THAT HIS DONORS AND PARTNERS HAD INVESTED IN. “And I know you’ve seen pictures. Every single casino in Illinois, look at the economic development around it, it doesn’t. It actually hurts economic development.” Did you feel he was actively competing against you? RON CLEWER I think there is a lot of language that actively showed that he was. RON CLEWER APPLIED TO PUT A CASINO HERE, ON RIVERFRONT PROPERTY ADJACENT TO THE DOWNTOWN AREA. THE CITY DENIED HIS APPLICATION… “The timeline was aggressive.” HE FEELS THE CITY SET THE BAR TOO HIGH, SPED THE PROCESS UP, EFFECTIVELY SIDELINED COMPETITION, AND GAVE A CLEAR ADVANTAGE TO INSIDERS CONNECTED TO SYVERSON, WHO KNEW THE LAW INSIDE AND OUT. “He was absolutely lobbying. “He clearly is lobbying.” HAD ROCKFORD USED THE SAME STANDARDS AS OTHER CITIES APPROVED FOR A CASINO IN ILLINOIS… CLEWER SAYS HIS BID WOULD HAVE STOOD A CHANCE BEFORE THE GAMING BOARD. “Dave works to move an agenda. I’m not exactly sure whose interests those are.” I know we could’ve pulled it off. WHAT WE STILL DON’T KNOW… ARE THERE MYSTERY INVESTORS HIDDEN BEHIND TRUSTS WHO STAND TO PROFIT ON THE CASINO. ALDERMAN LINDA MCNEELY “No matter what list, no matter what time period, all of the investors should be publicly available.” THE CITY DID PUBLISH A LIST OF INVESTORS, BUT OUT OF FOUR TRUSTS, ONLY THE NAMES OF THE TRUSTEES, NOT THE BENEFICIARIES, ARE PUBLIC. “Taxpayers should be able to know who they are. Trust or no trust, they knew when they set that up what the effect of that would be.” ((MARK)) SENATOR SYVERSON INSISTS — HE IS NOT INVESTED IN THE CASINO DEAL PERSONALLY. AND HE SAYS HE WASN’T LOBBYING. BOTH OF THOSE THINGS — UNDER CURRENT STATE LAW — WOULD BE LEGAL, DESPITE A GROWING NUMBER OF LAWMAKERS WHO SAY THEY SHOULDN’T BE. ((PAUL)) THANKS MARK. Tonight Mostly clear, with a low around 17. West wind 5 to 7 mph. Wednesday A 20 percent chance of snow before noon. Mostly cloudy, then gradually

You May Also Like

About the Author: Oren Garnes

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *