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June 21, 2018

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Maine panel to investigate $4.3M funding for proposed casino

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine's ethics commission voted Friday to investigate the source of $4.3 million in funding behind a proposed casino in southern Maine, but lawyers for the casino backers refused to accept subpoenas for the investigation.

The referendum campaign is led by Lisa Scott, sister of Shawn Scott, who organized a referendum that led to Hollywood Slots in Bangor. But the ethics commission staff says the money didn't come from them. They maintain the money came from loans from Tokyo and Las Vegas-based entities.

The casino proposal for the November ballot is written in such way that only Shawn Scott's Nevada-based Capital Seven LLC could operate the York County casino.

Shawn Scott has been down this road before.

He was behind the effort to bring a racetrack casino to Bangor in 2003 and pocketed a fortune when he sold the rights to Penn National Gaming for $51 million after facing hurdles to obtaining a state license. Penn National currently operates Hollywood Casino in Bangor.

The effort to bring another casino to Maine began in late 2015 with a petition-gathering effort led by Lisa Scott, who lives in Miami. Many petitions gathered on her behalf were deemed invalid, but she met the threshold on a second try to get the measure on the ballot.

It's unclear who's funding the effort. Critics including the ethics commission staff say Lisa Scott and her ballot committee failed to properly disclose the source of funding.

Bruce Merrill, an attorney for Lisa Scott, and Alexis Fallon, representing Shawn Scott, contend the Scotts have done nothing wrong.

Merrill rejected subpoenas presented Friday by ethics commission Executive Director Jon Wayne. Both attorneys left without taking questions.