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Big Money Spent on Maine's Casino Battle

22 April 2003

PORTLAND, Maine – As reported by the Associated Press: "The invitation to a recent anti-casino fund-raiser reads a bit like a Who's Who of the state's business and political elite.

"The list includes Leon Gorman, chairman of L.L. Bean's board; Tim Hussey, who runs Maine's oldest family owned business; Peter Geiger, whose company publishes the Farmers' Almanac; Warren Cook, former Sugarloaf USA president; and Gov. John Baldacci.

"The $250 per-plate fund-raiser, at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, raised more than $85,000, but organizers say much more is needed to fight a proposal for a $650 million Indian casino and resort in southern Maine.

"Many of Maine's big hitters appear to be lining up against the casino, while a major Las Vegas developer is funding the pro-casino effort in what could become the state's costliest referendum battle ever.

"…Despite the potential for big budgets and heavy advertising, both sides are emphasizing their grass-roots credentials, portraying themselves as feisty underdogs battling on behalf of the average Mainer.

"…Documents filed earlier this month with the state Ethics Commission indicate that Think About It, the pro-casino political action committee, has received more than $75,000 in contributions this year.

"…Casino foes, meanwhile, are continuing to solicit small donations from communities in southern Maine and even New Hampshire. Last weekend residents of North Berwick agreed to cut a $5,000 check to Casinos No.

"But the anti-casino group's biggest donations have come from some of Maine's most recognizable figures.

"Nearly half of the $84,000 reported to state officials so far in 2003 has come from the L.L. Bean family. Other contributors include Chris Harte, a former Portland newspaper executive, and Hussey, who is president and chief executive officer of Hussey Seating Co. in North Berwick…"

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