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Big Bucks Spent For And Against Proposed Linn County Casino

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The special election for a proposed Linn County Casino is still six weeks away. But, both campaigns are working hard and spending big bucks to spread their message. TV9 sat down with both campaigns on Tuesday to ask questions about where the money is coming from and who is investing.

Frank King, the chairman of Just Say No Casino, said the coalition is made up of many different people, mostly local. King said an outside group called Link Strategies is involved as well. "I contacted them and told them what my interest was and a few weeks later I was contacted and the rest was history. We've been working together since," he said.

A week's worth of advertising was purchased on KCRG-TV9 on behalf of Just Say No Casino. That's about 14 thousand dollars. King said Link Strategies handles all of the campaigns bookkeeping, so while he knows that money is coming from several different sources he doesn't know who those sources are. "All the numbers will be turned in. Everybody that has made a donation will be listed and those will be made available. It's public information so there is nothing to hide," said King. TV9 then asked King if he was paid for his position as chairman. "Absolutely not. I wouldn't take a dime if they offered it," he said.

On the other side, about 7 weeks of advertising was purchased on KCRG-TV9 on behalf of Vote Yes Linn County. That's about 200 thousand dollars. TV9 asked Marcia Rogers, the spokesperson for the campaign, where that funding comes from. "We will be happy to show that, as all campaigns have to do through filing public disclosure reports, and that will be made public on February 28th," said Rogers.

Rogers said there are about 100 investors in the project. Many of those investors names have not been made public. "I think where the confusion comes in is that people think because this is going to a referendum that it's a public/private partnership when in fact this is a group of private investors who are all Linn County residents," she said. Rogers, who does get paid to be the spokesperson for the campaign, said Vote Yes Linn County is made up of many community leaders in the area.

Advertising for Just Say No Casino started airing on KCRG-TV9 this week. Rogers said she was disappointed by the ad released by the opposition. "What we are seeing on the airwaves now is very discouraging to us because it's very negative, nasty, and inaccurate," she said. However, King said that their commercial just highlights a lack of answers to the questions they find important. "This is not about trying to beat someone down about voting for something, it's about trying to get the information out," he said.

Linn County Auditor, Joel Miller, expects this special election to cost about 200 thousand dollars. That money will come out of the county reserve fund. "If a city or a school has an election than we charge them for 99 percent of the costs for the election they initiated. This is basically a general election so it will be funded out of the county's general fund and all the county taxpayers will pay for it, versus that specific governing body like a city or school district," he said.

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