|The debate over whether to expand gambling in Rhode Island flared into controversy on Monday, with Republican congressional candidate Christy Ferguson questioning his opponent Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s ties to Las Vegas gambling interests and challenging him to cancel a fund raising event planned for Las Vegas in April.|
Ferguson is running for Kennedy’s 1st Congressional District seat, and is apparently trying to find a link to the same controversy that cost the job of Chief of Staff Joe DeLorenzo last week.
At issue is whether Kennedy improperly offered Harrah’s advice on hiring local lobbyists, an accusation that Kennedy denies. Former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones, now senior vice president for communications at Harrah’s, asked Kennedy’s opinion on the Providence firm Holland & Knight. Harrah’s subsequently hired two of the firm’s lawyers as lobbyists. Kennedy says that doesn’t constitute offering advice.
Ferguson attempted to take the moral high ground by saying that she will not accept contributions from gambling interests, and called upon Kennedy to cancel the fundraiser set up by Jones, and return other contributions from gambling interests. Kennedy’s campaign funds were swelled by $18,500 from gambling interests in the first half of the year.
Kennedy’s campaign manager Kim Devlin said he has no intention of cancelling the fundraiser in Las Vegas.