Monday, September 28, 2009

Williams Responds to Farish

Sen. President David Williams has responded to the open letter that Bill Farish wrote in favor of slots at the tracks. Williams's response appears in Bloodline, and it is disappointing on several levels.

Williams continues to demonize anyone who support slots, in particular the race tracks. His attacks on Farish, however, are just bizarre. Note the paternalism: Williams asserts that "[o]nce slots arrive, horse-owners and trainers will get the short end of the stick."With all due respect to Williams, Farish can speak with much more authority than Williams on how slots (or anything) will affect the horse industry.

Nor is it appropriate to attack Farish for exercising his first amendment rights:

Bill Farish failed to mention his family’s financial affiliation with the tracks as well as to the 527 "issues" group formed by the tracks and their supporters to circumvent campaign finance laws in order to intimidate legislators to support slots. During the recent special election, his pro-slots 527 ran negative ads that never even once mentioned slots. State after state with gambling in the mix has been rife with stories of political corruption.

Corruption does not necessarily flow from a citizen expressing an opinion about how public policy affects the industry in which he works.

To be sure, the laws on 527s can and should be tightened to increase transparency. However, Williams's assertion that Farish "failed to mention his family's financial affiliation with the tracks" is just laughable. This is the family that bred and raced A.P. Indy, Minesharft and Lemon Drop Kid. Of course they have a financial affiliation with the tracks. The web site for Lane's End Farm makes this very clear.

Williams accuses Farish of causing false divisions: "those tied to the slots may do their best to raise the specter of false divisions and false hope." To the contrary, Farish's letter conveyed substantial unity across the horse industry in its support of slots.

It is Williams who has created unnecessary division within the Republican party over the issue. Particularly after agreeing to a tax increase that threatens our Bourbon industry, Williams has showed a hostility to the free market -- and Kentucky's signature industries -- that leaves many of us perplexed about the direction of his leadership.

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