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Knott Favors National Harbor for Slots, So Do His Friends

Newly minted chairman of the Maryland Economic Development Corp. shares ties, views, of politically connected firm representing groups with an interest in gaming at National Harbor.

Martin Knott, the newly elected chairman of the Maryland Economic Development Corp., likes the idea of expanded gaming at the National Harbor.

So do Knott's friends, who just happen to run a public affairs firm that represents MGM Resorts and is running ads for union interests that want to see a new casino at the Prince George's County site.

Knott, a Towson resident and president of Timonium-based , was elected chairman of the group late last month.

Since becoming chairman of MEDCO, Knott spent the last week writing opinion pieces and doing interviews advocating for a sixth casino specifically at the National Harbor site.

"All of this is inevitable, at some point it is going to happen," Knott said of expanded gambling during a Saturday interview on the Jimmy Mathis Show on WBAL radio.

Mathis asked Knott if he favored locating the sixth casino at National Harbor.

"It certainly fits the profile of National Harbor," Knott said.

Knott went on to repeat some bullet point items that appear in radio and television ads calling for expanded gaming including the creation of 8,400 jobs, and attracting $800 million in new investment. The money generated could go to schools and other needs around the state.

"The city needs the property tax reduction they'll get out of this," Knott said, adding that it would also mean as much as $30 million to other jurisdictions such as Baltimore County.

"In Baltimore County, 46 percent of our schools don't have air conditioning," Knott said. "That's $20-$25 million that is just not going to be there (without expanded gambling). I look at that and say, 'Gosh, we could air condition 10 schools with that.'

"We cannot continue to lose $300 million a year," Knott said.

What has not been mentioned are Knott's ties to Kearney O'Doherty Public Affairs, a politically-connected Baltimore-based firm that represents a union group and a casino operator that also have an interest in the National Harbor site.

Knott was one of three founders of the website CenterMaryland.org along with Steve Kearney and Damian O'Doherty, partners in Kearney O'Doherty Public affairs. Kearney is a former top aide to Gov. Martin O'Malley. O'Doherty is a former chief of staff to former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith. 

Patch reached out to Knott and asked him to respond to questions about the connection with KO Public Affairs.

Knott instead sent an email with a three-sentence statement: "MEDCO’s mission is to help our state’s businesses create and retain jobs.  That’s what I intend to work on as the newly elected chair.  You’ll be hearing more from me in the future on business-related issues."

A representative at KO Public Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

KO Public Affairs has done some work for MGM Resorts. Last month, Howard Libit, a KO Public Affairs employee who also is listed as a founder of CenterMaryland.org, sent out a statement announcing the MGM Resorts had entered into an agreement to build a casino at the Prince George's County location.

KO Public Affairs is also responsible for assisting the Building Traders for the National Harbor in buying time to run radio and television commercials calling for a referendum to expand gambling.

David Moon obtained copies of the ads, which can be found on his Marylandjuice.com blog.

So far, the House and Senate have not been able to come to an agreement on a plan that would have lead to a second special session this year. That session was supposed to start today.

Knott, on WBAL, said he doesn't understand the resistance from the House of Delegates and Republican legislators.

"We don't live in those times any more where we can be playing these games," Knott said, adding that he believes a deal will eventually come together.

Some of the opposition is related to issues surrounding the protection of other casinos such as Maryland Live, which obtained their license with the expectation it would be one of just five regional casinos.

"I really believe there is a deal out there that protects the Anne Arundel County (casino) and protects the Baltimore City site," Knott said.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Adam R July 19, 2012 at 03:11 AM
The National Harbor location intrigues me: 1. Lower PG County got screwed by Cornish and the Arundel Mills location. We all know if life was fair that Casino would be at the Laurel Race Track right now. 2. Cornish is raking in the dough and will be opening another Casino in Baltimore City within the year. 3. Now Cornish is the one crying foul with the possibility of another Casino at National Harbor. 4. I don't care what Cornish thinks about anything. I say Tit for Tat, the floodgates are open, build the damn thing. The location is perfect for NVA/DC/MD. The National harbor is already a wonderful place to visit and a Casino near by would be a great asset for the area. Its still in MD and revenues would help the State. Yes there would be poaching of customers, but is it really any different from Charlestown, WV, Perryville, MD, or any of the many sites in DE? If Cornish's profits go down, too bad buddy!
Dean Smith July 19, 2012 at 12:28 PM
For the life of me, I can’t understand why some lawmakers are fighting to stop gambling in National Harbor (I know why Cordish is doing it) while at the same time, Maryland Live and the Proposed Slots Parlor in South Baltimore (currently, the largest 2 slots parlors in the state) are only about 10 miles apart?
Other Tim July 19, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I truly understand odds, and will never be seen in any casino.
adminnikePrinz July 30, 2012 at 04:34 PM
http://www.shoesmallshop.com/Inexpensive. Full range here as long as you need as long as you want http://www.shoesmallshop.com/Everything. Synthesis. This is the comprehensive trade website
hawkeye August 14, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Wonder how Congresswoman Donna Edwards feels about the casino in her neighborhood. Will it impact the resale value of that sweet deal condo she bought there? Maybe this is another of the governor's ways of screwing her over…like when he redistricted her into Anne Arundel County.

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