Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 20, 2012

Local lobbyists helping the OTB

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Niagara County lawmakers were scheduled Tuesday evening to consider approval of a resolution supporting OTB's gaming-expansion efforts. The resolution was placed on the agenda by Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane.

Kane said it is possible that Richardson Management has had some interaction on the local level in Niagara County, noting that OTB hired lobbyists in an effort to gain as much governmental support for their initiative as possible. Kane said Niagara County is one of 15 counties served by the Western Region OTB and, as such, benefits directly from revenue collected by the organization. As a result, Kane said, if gaming is expanded at Batavia Downs, Niagara County stands to gain as do the other municipal entities serving the area.

Lobbying is a legally regulated practice in New York by which individuals and firms registered with the state are hired to promote clients' interests within local, state and federal governments. The state requires registered lobbyists to periodically file reports with the JCOPE. Those reports include information about the lobbyists, their clients and the nature of their lobbying activities.

Maziarz said neither Winter nor any representatives from his firm have contacted him to discuss OTB's gaming expansion plan, although he said he has had conversations with Winter in the past about various energy-related issues. He noted that Winter's turn as chief of staff in his office came in the early stages of his state Senate career which dates back to 1995. Maziarz said he was not aware that OTB had entered into an agreement for Richardson Management's services. Maziarz acknowledged that he's known Winter for years and that the two went to college together, adding that Winter stopped working in his Senate office 15 years ago.

Maziarz said that while he has not talked with Winter about expanding casino offerings at "racinos," Tokacz, a Democrat who works for Patricia Lynch and Associates, has been in contact with him to discuss the topic.

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