Noonan: Integrity in New York racing?
Tom Noonan writes about his concerns regarding the state of racing in New York and the takeover of the sport by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Noonan questions the validity of the allegations as an investigation into the issues has not been completed. Before any investigation was completed, former president and former general counsel of the New York Racing Association were both fired for allegedly knowing the state was using the incorrect takeout rate. When NYRA moved to elect new leaders to fill the absence left by the firings, its choices for the positions were immediately rejected as inappropriate. Moves by the governor to make changes to the structure of NYRA are of questionable legality, writes Noonan.
Noonan writes: “More troubling than even these actions of questionable legality, however, were statements in the May 15 letter disparaging the motivations or behavior of unnamed Board members with no substantiating evidence. The letter raised the possibility that a majority of Board members may have a conflict of interest because of “specific financial interests in horse racing.” This letter by the state’s two highest officials regulating horse racing fails to mention, however, that such “specific financial interests” are explicitly permitted under the state’s laws. In addition, the letter warns that the Racing & Wagering Board “[u]pon completion of the Inspector General’s investigation … will commence a review of the licenses of management and Board members to determine whether standards of character and fitness have been violated sufficient to terminate an individual’s right to participate in horse racing….” Or, to paraphrase, after an independent, objective review - the results of which are not known - we are still going to see if we can punish you. Finally, the letter threatened to consider revocation of NYRA’s franchise - but again, only after the completion of an independent, objective review.”