Millions spent on campaign ads for and against Slidell casino
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The battle over whether to build a $325 million dollar casino in St. Tammany Parish is hard to miss.
The television commercials hit the airwaves constantly, mailboxes are stuffed with flyers, and billboards and signs are all over St. Tammany Parish.
About 18,000 people in St. Tammany have already early voted, and Dillard University Political Analyst DR. Robert Collins believes the actual turnout on election day will be over 30%.
“This tells us that this is a hot button issue and an emotional issue. This is obviously an issue that both sides of the issue have spent a lot of money on,” says Collins.
More than $5 million dollars was spent on campaigning both for and against the casino.
“It’s highly unusual to have millions of dollars spent on an issue race, and it obviously dwarfs the amount of money that you see for example in a parish president’s race or a parish council race,” says Collins.
Compare the more than $5 million dollars spent on casino ads to the latest St. Tammany Parish President’s race where all three candidates spent a total of $831 thousand dollars.
The casino’s political committee, Northshore Wins, filed a campaign finance report that showed over $3.7 million dollars in expenditures.
That other side isn’t so clear.
Opponents to the casino, Watchdog PAC, is registered as a social welfare organization, and they’re not required to disclose their donors.
Chairman, Scott Wilfong, says the group did not file campaign finance reports but told FOX 8, they’ve spent more than $1.5 million dollars so far.
“I think that tells you basically that the anti-side is basically trying to match the spending to the pro-side, and it also tells you that there are some very powerful special interest, very powerful corporate interest that’s interested in the outcome,” says Collins.
Wilfong says he will not reveal the identity of the donors, but told FOX 8 significant amounts of money has come from individuals, as well as other types of donors.
Collins points out, the ads are far reaching, even to those communities who will not be voting on the issue. Plus, he says the ads are sophisticated on both sides.
“These are political media companies that are running a highly coordinated and highly focused campaign,” says Collins.
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