It’s one thing for Bruce Jackson to say that I’m a schmuck for writing something nasty about the Wendt Foundation. It’s another thing altogether for him to insinuate that I was part of a conspiratorial effort to embarrass it.
Luckily, two can play at this guessing game.
Perhaps the reason why Mr. Jackson took the “conspiracy” tack has to do with the fact that he and his kids have benefited from the Wendt Foundation’s largess.
1. If you take a look at Jackson’s CV, posted here, he lists himself as being a 2007 recipient of a “fellowship” or “grant” from the Margaret Wendt Foundation. That’s strange, since the Wendt Foundation’s disclosure shows that it is limited geographically to WNY and “no grants to individuals” (p. 10 of 2007 – links to 2007 and 2006 Wendt disclosures are at the bottom of the post).
Given the tone and content of his current Artvoice article, I find that to be a patent and clear conflict of interest.
To quote the philosopher Ron Popeil, “but wait, there’s more.”
Jackson’s CV also lists him as a Vice-President of Citizens for a Better Buffalo, the organization that brought the lawsuit which is being funded by the Wendt Foundation. (Citizens for a Better Buffalo has no website, and there is no way to determine its membership, or its income or expenditures). In Artvoice, Jackson discloses his “former” vice presidency of CBB, but does not disclose the next item:
2. That is an image taken from the signature blocks at the end of the casino opponents’ recent motion asking Judge Skretny to enforce his July 8th decision and force the NIGC to shut down gaming operations in Buffalo. Jackson & Jackson are among the lead attorneys in that lawsuit.
Why is this a big deal?
The lawyers at Jackson and Jackson are related to Bruce.
They’re his kids.
How much Wendt Foundation money did they earn for their work on the casino lawsuit? How much did Bruce receive in 2007 from the Wendt Foundation? Why wasn’t that disclosed in his article? Why do I have to be accused of “swiftboating” the Wendt Foundation by some guy for whom Wendt is a benefactor?
According to the 2006 IRS Form 990 disclosure of The Wendt Foundation, the “Network for Religious Communities” is the recipient of about $910,000 over the course of 2006. While most line-items for payouts have some detail to them, such as “Erie County SPCA: Purchase a replacement vehicle for the Rescue/Cruelty Investigations Department”, the Network for Religious Communities just gets “Support $1,455,000”. There is no further explanation. Network for Religious Communities is one of the many plaintiffs in the anti-casino lawsuit. [UPDATE: “Pat” points out in comments that CACGEC funnels donations through the Network for Religious Communities Rev. Showers is CACGEC’s Treasurer, and CACGEC does not appear to be a non-profit as recognized by the IRS.]
I called Wendt for comment, but no one was around to discuss it and no one has called me back. It appears, however, that Wendt funneled the money for the lawyers through the Network for Religious Communities rather than through the ad hoc, newly created “Citizens for a Better Buffalo”. To whom does Jackson & Jackson send its bills?
3. The Margaret Wendt Foundation, which has spent $2 million to protect the people of Buffalo from themselves by funding this lawsuit against the casino is one big, fat, 501c3 hypocrite.
Based on its 2006 IRS disclosure, between 2003 – 2006, it held $2.73 million worth of stock in Harrah’s. 58,900 shares, to be exact. It sold the shares in 2006 for about $4.8 million – a tidy $2 million profit.
One might say that Wendt’s investment in Harrah’s funded the Buffalo effort to destroy a Harrah’s competitor.
Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. is the world’s largest provider of branded casino entertainment through operating subsidiaries. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada 70 years ago, Harrah’s has grown through development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions, and now owns or manages casino resorts on four continents The company’s properties operate primarily under the Harrah’s, Caesars and Horseshoe brand names; Harrah’s also owns the London Clubs International family of casinos and the World Series of Poker. On January 28, 2008, Harrah’s Entertainment was acquired by affiliates of private-equity firms TPG Capital and Apollo Global Management.
Harrah’s is also a leading management company for several Indian Casinos, such as Harrah’s Rincon Casino & Resort in San Diego, CA. The Rincon Band of Mission Indians is the tribal organization affiliated with this casino.
Gambling. Good enough for Bruce Jackson’s kids to make money off of. Good enough for the Wendt Foundation to make money off of. Not good enough for you.
Research and contributions from Christopher Smith
UPDATE: Thanks to Tom Bauerle for talking about this this morning.
In 2001, The New York Times reported that Harrah’s Entertainment Corporation was in negotiations to manage and operate three Western New York casinos for the Seneca Nation. Harrah’s has a long track record managing casinos for Indian nations, including the Ak-Chin casino near Kansas City, the Rincon Casino in San Diego, and Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina.
Harrah’s, the world’s second-largest casino company, is one of several companies that have made a proposal to the Seneca Nation of Indians, hoping the tribe will choose them to build and run as many as three casinos in western New York. Harrah’s says it has also discussed a Catskills casino with another tribe — it will not say which one — and scouted locations, armed with a feasibility study it conducted on the region several years ago.
Such casinos in New York would take some business away from Atlantic City, doubling the resolve of casino companies there to get a piece of the action in New York.
”If someone’s going to cannibalize us, I want to be the cannibal,” said Philip G. Satre, chief executive of Harrah’s, which has two Atlantic City casinos. He said his company was talking with the Senecas ”long before the bill was passed.”
So, is it possible that the purchase of Harrah’s stock in 2003 precipitated an expected agreement with the Seneca Nation to operate casinos in Western New York and the sale of that stock been predicated on the announcement or intention of the Seneca Nation to operate the casinos on their own?
(If any other media outlet decides to run with any of this, it’d sure be swell to get some attribution this time. KTHXBAI.)