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Published: Monday, 5/10/2010

No slots secrets

BEFORE Ohioans decide in November whether they want slots at Toledo's Raceway Park and six other horse-racing tracks around the state, they have a right to know who is behind the campaign to overturn the state's electronic slot machine law.

On behalf of voters, the state's elections chief aims to get to the bottom of who's funding LetOhioVote. The Ohio Supreme Court wisely refused to block her investigation.

The high court ruled unanimously that Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner did not overreach her authority by issuing subpoenas to members of the group in an attempt to learn more about who is bankrolling its effort. All of the $1.5 million that funded the successful petition drive that resulted in the voter referendum on legalizing slots came from a single source.

A mysterious Virginia-based outfit called New Models paid the group's bills. But where the company got the money for the Ohio campaign to repeal the slots law remains a closely guarded secret.

There is conjecture that the backers of last year's successful effort to open casinos in four Ohio cities might be motivated to eliminate slots competition at the tracks. Penn National Gaming, one of the entities preparing to build casinos in Toledo and Columbus, has denied funding LetOhioVote.

The promoter preparing to open casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati, Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert, refused to comment either way about the secretive funding of the anti-slots organization. Enough. It's time for the principal players of LetOhioVote to reveal who's really putting up cash for their campaign.

A spokesman for LetOhioVote said the high court ruling doesn't force the group to comply with Ms. Brunner's subpoena. No decision had been made about compliance or further litigation, he said.

But he and other members should know they are only hurting their cause by fighting full disclosure and continuing to flout the spirit of Ohio campaign finance law.

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