With word that the deep pocketed Koch Brothers are reportedly contemplating funding the Libertarian candidate and two-term former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson's campaign, we look back at Thomas Somach's report on Johnson and his friendly attitude towards gambling.
Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson had the line of the night at the recent Republican presidential candidates debate in Florida, saying his "neighbor's dog has created more shovel-ready jobs than President Obama."
The joke--which wasn't original--gave Johnson a few days of media attention, something he's been lacking because he's usually excluded from the G.O.P. debates due to low poll numbers.
But now that a joke about dog feces has put the ex-governor in the national spotlight, the question arises: what kind of governor was he and what kind of president would he be?
When it comes to gambling issues, that is.
As part of its continuing series on the current and potential presidential candidates' stands on gambling issues, Gambling911.com examined Johnson's record as governor and learned that during his tenure he was a big supporter of gambling in New Mexico, allowing Indian casinos to flourish and at one point attempting to legalize wagering on bicycle racing, of all things!
Gambling911.com can also report that his support of gambling continues to this day--one of the main planks of his presidential campaign platform is legalizing online poker!
Johnson, 58, who was born in North Dakota, served as New Mexico governor from 1995 to 2003.
In 2006, the Albuquerque Journal, the local newspaper in New Mexico's largest city, published an eight-part series on the state of gambling in the State of New Mexico.
In one of the parts that reviewed Johnson's record on gambling, the newspaper reported that as governor he allowed the state's Indian casinos to expand their gambling offerings, but only because he had no choice.
Indian casinos became legal nationwide under legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, and by 1994, eight Indian casinos offering slot machines only were operating in New Mexico, the newspaper reported.
In 1995, shortly after taking office, Governor Johnson negotiated deals with the state's Indian casinos so they could offer more options, such as blackjack and poker, the newspaper reported.
Johnson had received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the state's Indian tribes.
"Is it good for New Mexico? I think at best you can call it a wash because, of course, there are a lot of people adversely affected by gambling. But then, on the positive side, it's good for tribes," the newspaper quoted Johnson saying about the deals.
Johnson also said that under Federal law, he had no choice but to allow the Indian tribes to expand gambling in their casinos, the newspaper reported.
The agreements Johnson negotiated with the tribes were later voided when the state's Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional because the state's legislature hadn't approved them, the newspaper reported.
Eventually, the state legislature did pass a bill not only expanding gambling in Indian casinos but also allowing slot machines at state racetracks and social clubs, and Johnson signed it into law, the newspaper reported.
But Johnson wasn't done there.
According to the website gamblingandthelaw.com, which is operated by Whittier Law School professor I. Nelson Rose, an expert on gambling law, Johnson once tried to legalize bicycle racing in New Mexico.
"In 2001, Johnson earmarked $50,000 to create regulations for parimutuel betting on bicycle racing," the website notes.
The plan failed because, the website notes, "Attorney General Madrid opined it is illegal under Federal law."
Now that he's out of office and running for U.S. president, Johnson is once again publicly supporting gambling.
This time it's online gambling--specifically, online poker.
In a recent press release sent to media throughout the nation, Johnson declared: "Government has absolutely no business telling Americans what they can do with their own time and their own money on their own computers, and that most certainly should apply to playing poker online.
"The fact that Americans are now prevented from playing online poker is an outrage. Unfortunately it is but another chilling example of how Congress and the Justice Department continue to trample on our personal liberty.
“As president, I will do everything in my power to restore your right to play online poker and ensure that such a right can never be taken away again.”
So far, Johnson in the only Republican contender for president to issue a press release about online poker.
And he's the only one to try to legalize wagering on bike racing.
As President of the United States, he'd likely be a friend to gambling interests at all levels
But he's the longest of long shots, to use a gambling term, and if he does make, he'll owe it all to a wisecrack about dog doo.
Only in America!
By Tom Somach
Gambling911.com Staff Writer