Isadore Hall Gambles Away the Future of CA-44

KEY POINT: State Senator Isadore Hall has a long history of taking money from individuals and industries then fighting for their special interests at the expense of his constituents.  Hall has taken over $660,000 from the gambling and casino industries while sponsoring gambling legislation supported by those donors.  Hall also sponsored legislation to expand card clubs and a cardroom lobbyist called  Hall “a champion for the industry.” Hall currently chairs the Senate Governmental Organization Committee, which has jurisdiction over the horse racing and public gaming industries.

Hall has taken over $660,000 from the gambling, casino industries and tribal interests while sponsoring gambling legislation supported by those donors.  Hall also sponsored legislation to expand card clubs and a cardroom lobbyist called Hall “a champion for the industry.” Hall currently chairs the Senate Governmental Organization Committee, which has jurisdiction over the horse racing and public gaming industries. 

Mr. Hall has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the very industries he is tasked with regulating and then sponsoring legislation benefiting them instead of the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in his district.

In 2010, he sponsored a bill that extended the gambling moratorium related to the expansion of cardrooms and the issuance of new cardroom licenses from 2015 – 2020, to protect his largest contributors. He sponsored similar legislation that passed in 2011.

At the same time that this legislation was being proposed, Hall raked in over $126,000 from casino owners and the gambling industry, all of whom had a stake in the legislation he pushed.

This pattern has continued throughout his term in the state legislature and in his current congressional campaign. In this election alone, Hall has accepted over $100,000 from the gaming industry, including $10,800 in contributions from indicted casino owner Harvey Souza and his wife, Bette Souza. Harvey Souza’s casino was indicted as part of a Department of Justice sting on a ten million dollar money laundering operation.

While communities in Hall's district struggle to combat crime and poverty, studies have shown that the introduction of casinos are directly related to a sharp increase in most crimes, such as robbery, aggravated assault, rape, murder, larceny, burglary, and auto theft.

With this in mind, the presence of the gaming industry in Mr. Hall’s community and the 44th District, with his endorsement, is especially worrisome because according to the California Council on Problem Gambling, “problem gamblers are 3 to 3.5 times as likely to be arrested or spend time in jail, and are 2 to 7 times more likely to smoke, binge drink, take illegal drugs.”

No Horsing Around: Pay-to-Play Drives State Senator Isadore Hall’s Support for the Horse Racing Industry

As the current Chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization (GO) Committee and the former Chairman of the Assembly GO Committee, State Senator Isadore Hall has had longstanding oversight over a wide variety of special interests, including the gaming and horse racing industries.  That’s why some people are expressing concern over the $115,050 in campaign contributions Hall has received from the horse racing industry between 2008 and 2015.

Compounding the issue, during his time in the state legislature Hall has engaged in what appears to be a clear case of pay-to-play by introducing legislation that is designed to further the interests of his six-figure donors, who he oversees as GO Committee chairman.

For example, in the senate he introduced SB 187 (a bill he previously introduced in the assembly) which would specifically exempt the Wood Memorial race from the 32- and 50-race per day limit on imported races. The Wood Memorial race is run in New York and is one of the races that prep horses to run for the Triple Crown. Not coincidentally, Hall accepted $12,100 in donations from Churchill Downs, the Kentucky race track that hosts the Kentucky Derby, which is the first race in the Triple Crown.

Speaking of the Kentucky Derby, in 2012, Hall attended the famed racing event on a “fact finding mission” and brought home $20,000 in campaign donations. Then in 2014, Hall attended the Derby with Dennis Loper, one of Sacramento’s top gaming lobbyists. Questions have been raised as to the legitimacy of purpose and funding for that trip, particularly in light of the fact that Senator Hall has received over $117,000 from Loper’s clients.

Supportive Background

·      San Francisco Chronicle, 9/29/15

·      California Council on Problem Gambling, Impacts on the Community

·      Grinols, Earl L. and David B. Mustard. “CASINOS, CRIME, & COMMUNITY COSTS,” Florida Family Politics, 2004.