Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle today denied he has any “secret plan” to benefit the state’s casino industry.
The chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party held a news conference Monday to point to the $260,000 Nussle has received from people who own eight of the casinos in Iowa. Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sally Pederson charged that Nussle must have a “secret plan” that benefits the casinon industry. Nussle has received over $100,000 from Gerald Kirke, who owns two casinos and has filed plans to open two more in Ottumwa and Fort Dodge, but Nussle says he’s made no promises to any casino owners. “I’ve been very clear and consistent from the very beginning with regard to gambling that I am not for expansion of gambling and that’s TouchPlay and casinos,” Nussle says.
While Nussle denies he has any “secret plan” because of the donations he’s received from the state’s casino industry, Nussle continues to charge that his Democratic opponent Chet Culver must have struck a “secret deal” with the state’s TouchPlay industry since Culver has received over $100,000 from TouchPlay owners and operators. “What I believe needs full disclosure is what were the conversations, what were the agreements, what were the secret deals with regard to TouchPlay that got over $100,000 from people who evidently thought that TouchPlay was dead and gone. Now all of a sudden they’re very involved,” Nussle says. “I think it’s fair to ask the question why.”
Craig Cohoon, a spokesman for the TouchPlay industry, says Nussle’s allegation of a “secret deal” is “sheer fantasy” and the industry has no expectations that Iowa politicians will ever re-start their TouchPlay machines. Cohoon says TouchPlay owners and operators are giving to Democrats who expressed sympathy for the financial losses they suffered when TouchPlay was shut down earlier this year.