Cordish Urges Business Support By Promising "VIP" and Investment Perks at Casino ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cordish Urges Business Support By Promising "VIP" and Investment Perks at Casino

David Cordish, chair of the company poised to develop the casino at Arundel Mills if "Question A" passes, is working to create a confidential "Business Council" in which business leaders have been promised favors in return for their support of "Question A." 

On October 5th, Cordish wrote to a couple of dozen people he referred to as "elite" county business leaders asking them to attend a meeting to set up a "Business Council" where they could use their contacts and influence to ensure passage of "Question A."  In return Cordish offered various privileges including an opportunity to invest in the casino and added that this group would play a role in allocating philanthropic grants. Among some of the recipients of the letter were Kathy Nieberding Temprine who is director of development for Leadership Anne Arundel and has been critically involved in many political campaigns including that of Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen and of Democratic County Council Candidate Chris Trumbauer.

HERE IS A COPY OF THE LETTER  with the names of the recipients excluded. I have seen an original of the email but this is taken from a PDF:
From: David Cordish []
Sent: Tuesday, October 05,2010 11:47 AM

To: Subject: Maryland Live! Meeting Invitation
Confidential Meeting Invitation

Ladies and Gentleman,

Power Plant Entertainment Casino Resorts Maryland, LLC ("PPE"), which is owned by
principals of Baltimore-based The Cordish Companies, has been awarded a license by the State
of Maryland to operate a casino at Arundel Mills in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

It is our intention to create a working group "Business Council" of elite Anne Arundel County­
based business leaders who would use their contacts and influence to help pass Question A on
th~ November 2nd election. A vote FOR Question A will help ensure the creation of thousands of
jobs for Anne Arundel County citizens, hundreds of million of dollars a year in revenues for the
State Education Trust Fund, and at least thirty million a year in new revenue for the Anne
Arundel County government to help balance its budget without raising taxes.

This Business Council is envisioned as the locals "eyes and ears" to PPE, which will be by far
the largest taxpayer in the State of Maryland. The Council will stay intact after a victory on
November 2nd , and continue to provide input during construction and after completion of what
will be a world-class entertainment venue. The Council will provide suggestions during
construction and operation, and help to communicate ownership's ideas to the citizens of Anne
Arundel County. After completion of the project, the Council will play an important role in
helping ownership allocate grants to local philanthropic organizations.

Members of the Council will be afforded a number of VIP privileges at the completed casino,
such as:

(l) VIP parking.
(2) Special events and programming at the casino.
(3) Priority seating and reservations for restaurants and entertainment.
(4) Subject to applicable law, the opportunity to invest in the ownership of the casino along
side the Cordish principals.

We will have our first meeting this Thursday night, October 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the Chartwell
Country Club, 1 Chartwell Drive, Severna Park, MD 21146. The event will take an hour to
an hour and a half maximum. I will explain the importance of this vote to the future of Anne
Arundel County, elaborate on each of the elements of this letter, and generally answer questions.

Your names, per the attached list, were either known to me or you were recommended by Jerry
South or Jay Baldwin. Bunkie Ebersberger (telephone: 410-507-1001; e-mail: and Philip Niedermair (telephone: 301-219-9613; e-mail:
pniedennair(a{ have been instrumental in formulating the Business Council
and in putting this event together. Please feel free to call them prior to Thursday if you have any

Very truly yours,

David S. Cordish, Chairman
The Cordish Company

---------------------------------------[end of letter]

The original email came with an attached spreadsheet of a virtual who's who of Anne Arundel County business owners and deep pocket individuals put together, apparently by Jay Baldwin, Jerry South and Bunkie Ebersberger and referred to above. It included, among many others, Raven's Owner Steve Bisciotti, developer Jerry Parks, Michael Wagner of Michael's Eighth Avenue and former County Executive Jim Lighthizer.

Philip E. Niedermair who is mentioned toward the end of the above letter is Managing Partner of The Bridge Alliance, "a non-exclusive alliance of like-minded, complementary professional services firms in the mid-Atlantic area. The Bridge Alliance partners are committed to adding value to our clients by making available qualified resources in the areas of insurance, financial services, law and accounting. Member companies operate by a code of conduct that ensures all clients are treated in a fashion that exemplifies integrity, accountability and attentiveness. Clients working with any of The Bridge Alliance partners can expect preferred treatment from the area’s finest professional firms."  

I called Niedermair but had not heard back by time of publication.

Bunkie Ebersberger could neither confirm nor deny the letter but said he was mainly concerned about the activities of "outside" Penn National competitors. He said he does not gamble and is not interested in slots. A call to Jerry South was not returned but he is the president and CEO of Towne Park LTD, an Annapolis concern that calls itself "America’s premier provider of valet parking, parking management, and hospitality staffing services. Serving people is our passion. On behalf of our 300 clients, we welcome thousands of guests every day from coast to coast." Perhaps Towne Park is expecting a valet parking contract with Arundel Mills casino.

Jay Baldwin is presumed to be the Jay Baldwin who is CEO of Reliable Contracting. An email was sent to all of the original email recipients asking them to confirm the October 5th email. A call to The Cordish Company's marketing person and an email to David Cordish was not returned.

A recent column in The Capital by Annapolis and Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce President Bob Burdon strongly favored "Question A". One can only wonder if such a column or other similar media and persuasive activities are taking place because of the encouragement being provided by Cordish to the business "elite" of our county. In any event, there must be so much at stake that everyone is pulling out all the stops in the last few weeks to get the people to vote. But there are legitimate ways and not so legitimate ways to influence public opinion, but the promise of VIP privileges including an opportunity to invest AND a suggestion that philanthropic support may be influenced does not pass the smell test.

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