Four charged in Iowa with making illegal contributions

Two executives with casino operator Peninsula Gaming Partners, together with a Davenport, Iowa, lawyer and a Fort Dodge, Iowa, businessman were charged Monday with making illegal campaign contributions to Gov. Chet Culver’s re-election campaign.

As reported by The Des Moines Register, the charges were filed by a special prosecutor appointed in connection with an ongoing investigation into $25,000 in campaign contributions to Culver’s campaign in 2009. The contributions were made at a time when the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission was considering a casino license application for Fort Dodge.

A state investigation was launched earlier this year into whether Dubuque-based Peninsula - which operates the Diamond Jo casinos in Dubuque and Worth County - had aligned with supporters of the proposed Fort Dodge casino to make improper contributions to Culver. Webster County Gaming was the official applicant for the license. Its management firm, Webster County Entertainment, was negotiating with Peninsula to have Peninsula operate the proposed casino, according to the Register.

In Iowa it is illegal to make or knowingly receive a political contribution in another’s name.

Charged were Peninsula CEO M. Brent Stevens and COO Jonathan Swain; Davenport lawyer Curtis Beason; and Steven Daniel, the Fort Dodge businessman who headed Webster County Entertainment.

Peninsula, which also operates Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino in St. Landry Parish, La., and the Amelia Belle casino in Amelia, La., issued a statement denying the charges.

“Peninsula has, during its 11-year history, always adhered to the highest standards of regulatory compliance and ethical business practices and has an impeccable record of responsibility and excellence in the gaming industry,” the statement said. “We look forward to a positive resolution of this matter.”

Beason and Daniel also have denied the charges.

The four were scheduled to be arraigned November 1.

No charges were filed against Culver or anyone involved with his campaign. Culver campaign officials said last summer that the campaign had donated the $25,000 to charity, one of the methods allowed by law to dispose of questionable campaign contributions.