After two-year moratorium passed, Cedar Rapids casino backers create political action committee

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 6:21 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - State records show the group trying to build a casino in Cedar Rapids started donating thousands of dollars to politicians around the final days of the 2022 midterm election.

City leaders in Cedar Rapids were concerned about how other casino companies’ donations influenced legislation, which stopped the state from issuing another license to open a casino for two years.

According to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board records, Brent Stevens donated around $60,000. Stevens is the group’s only contributor and is the founder and chairman for Peninsula Pacific Entertainment.

The PAC, which the Cedar Rapids Gazette first reported on Friday, gave around $47,000 to around 30 different candidates from both major political parties. However, the largest donations went to Republican party leaders.

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ (R) campaign received $7,500. Republican leaders in the State Legislature, Sen. Jack Whitver (R-Grimes) and Rep. Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford), each received $3,000.

Democratic leaders in the State Legislature, Sen. Zach Wahls (R-Coralville) and Rep. Jennifer Konfrst (D-Windsor Heights), each received $2,000.

Elite Casino Resorts CEO Dan Kehl has continually criticized a potential casino in Cedar Rapids because it would make casinos less profitable in Waterloo, Meskwaki and the one it owns in Riverside.

According to data from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, ELITE PAC has given more than $400,000 to candidates across Iowa since 2016.