The Gaming Commission has come out of the integrity gate very badly in what news reports characterize as a “PR nightmare” and child advocacy groups with legislators cite as “serious concerns,” but which the Commission’s 48 hour-tenure director Stan McGee and chair Stephen Crosby relegate to a “distraction.”
Integrity and transparency to ensure the public good in positions of absolute authority over who will be operating and running multi-billion dollar casino operations in the Commonwealth should be more than an inconvenient distraction.
Chairman Crosby’s stance sent a clear message that Stan McGee’s expertise apparently trumped concerns raised by elected officials, child advocacy groups, news reports and law enforcement officials over whether or not the person he selected to run the Commission had sexually molested a young boy in Florida and then used his political influence to get those charges against him dropped.
At the time of his arrest Carl Stanley McGee was Governor Deval Patrick’s identified Indian gaming expert and point man on crafting legislation enabling casino gambling in Massachusetts. Legislation that included a special regional carve-out for an Indian tribe – which later turned out to be a de facto set-aside specifically for the Mashpee Wampanoag. Since passing the Governor’s gaming bill, McGee has been leading the Commonwealth’s negotiations for an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) and crafting the "casino compact" by with the Mashpee tribe would be allowed to open an Indian reservation casino complex in Taunton, MA. A role McGee stated he wanted to keep when moving over to the Gaming Commission.
Apparently now, McGee – not willing to simply answer the questions about his past behavior – has returned to that senior administration post and responsibilities negotiating a casino deal for the Wampanoag. When McGee was first charged four years ago he plead the 5th and refused to answer the arresting officers’ questions. That’s his right, but when asked if he molested the child, McGee has never told investigators he didn't do it. When asked by reporters whether or not he molested the child, he has only said “no comment.”
It seems that making sure senior officials meet reasonable standards of non-criminal conduct was also an inconvenient “distraction” for the Governor as well. While Steve Crosby first claimed the Governor's office cleared McGee, it was later reported they did not investigate or even ask questions of McGee. After his widely reported arrest nobody in the Patrick administration investigated or bothered to even ask McGee if he was innocent before they reinstated him to his senior position overseeing gaming legislation and negotiating casino agreements with Indian tribes. Stephen Crosby who came to McGee’s ardent defense stating he had been fully investigated, exonerated of all charges (when in fact neither was true) and found to be “pristine” (really, pristine?) by the board also never bothered to ask McGee if he did it or not.
We are left wondering, since he never denied the crime, how McGee got the charges dropped and why he still declines today to simply state his innocence. Did McGee use his political influence and did anyone in the Patrick Administration weigh in to help him get the Florida prosecutor to go against the testimony of arresting officers, investigative findings of the Florida State Child Sex Crimes unit and the victim’s family? That’s not an unreasonable question to ask.
Or, possibly a more likely scenario, did McGee use his State-gained connections and “expertise” with the Indian gaming community and their well-heeled investors to help him in Florida? Indian gaming is huge business and highly influential with Florida officials – even those in Lee County where casino interests have been heavily lobbying for years to open up gaming there. The Genting Group, the financial backers of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe who have benefited significantly from McGee’s legislative carve-out and subsequent compact negotiations, is one of the largest political contributors and lobbyist funders in Florida – giving more than $680,000 to Florida politicians and hiring a dozen-plus lobbying firms in that state. Further, the Mashpee Tribe conveniently shared the same law firm with the Florida Seminole Tribe at the time. Did Genting or one of the Wampanoag’s influential Florida tribe connections do McGee any favors?
This latter scenario is most intriguing as it could certainly help explain how the Governor’s office moved from opposing a Wampanoag Indian reservation casino prior to McGee’s arrest in late 2008 to supporting a special set-aside designed into the legislative proposal by McGee for the tribe just two years later.
If these questions cannot be satisfactorily and transparently answered for the public, then the entire gaming legislative crafting and subsequent casino compact deals with the Wampanoag are all tainted and should be thrown out.
As for McGee - simply moving from one high-paid, high-ranking and influential casino-related job to another where he can operate from behind the scenes makes sense to whom?