Is Arizona HBPA Selectively Enforcing Bylaws For Board Election?

by | 03.16.2017 | 5:27pm
Turf Paradise racetrack in Phoenix, Ariz.

John Campo III is an attorney in Phoenix who breeds and races Thoroughbreds at Turf Paradise. He's seen the quality of racing and purses deteriorate there, and thinks the board of directors for the Arizona Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association could use some fresh blood as tit prepares to negotiate a new contract with track owner Jerry Simms.

Campo put his name up to run for the AHBPA board of directors but was told that, because of a clause in the organization's bylaws, he was not eligible unless he resigned from the board of directors of another horsemen's organization, the Arizona Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

He refused to do so, and Campo's name was not allowed to go on the ballot.

What struck Campo as odd was the fact three sitting AHBPA board members – Bill Matthews, Filippo Santoro and Lee Vaughn – are current members of the same ATBA board. Matthews and Santoro are running for reelection without having to resign from the ATBA board.

AHBPA president J. Lloyd Yother said the clause prohibiting a board member simultaneously sitting on “any other opposing horsemen's group” board has been in effect since 1984. He said he only learned of the restriction in December.

That's when the board voted a waiver for Matthews and Santoro, allowing them to serve on both the AHBPA and ATBA boards. Vaughn is not running for re-election because he has not had enough runners to retain eligibility. Ballots were mailed earlier this week and are due back April 17.

“They are good board members,” Yother said of Matthews and Santoro. “They have served in the past and are currently serving. The board thought they shouldn't penalize them.”

Why, then, was Campo not given the same waiver?

“We are enforcing the bylaws,” Yother said. “I have been in this a few years, and I believe running an organization by the bylaws, whether they are good, bad or indifferent. I'm not saying we've got a problem with Campo. He's an experienced attorney. He should know the circumstances.”

Yother said Campo was told he was required to resign three months prior to the election. Mike Chambers, another non-incumbent candidate for the AHBPA board, resigned from the ATBA board in order to run.

Isn't this selective enforcement of bylaws by Yother and the current AHBPA board? Yother wouldn't say yes or no.

“I've got some things going with the legislature,” Yother said. “The last thing I need is to get a bunch in here that want to change things.”

“The board changed the rules to suit themselves,” said Campo, “to keep existing people in there. I'd like to see a whole new board, one that is speaking on behalf of horsemen. They need people with business experience for when they negotiate a new contract.”

The current AHBPA board also reduced the number of board seats from 10 to seven. Was this done to make it easier for incumbents to maintain control?

“We reduced the number because of non-participation,” said Yother.

Yother said a priority of the AHBPA going forward is elimination or reduction of the Regulatory Wagering Assessment initiated under former Gov. Jan Brewer that requires the track and horsemen to pay for the racing division of the Arizona Department of Gaming's regulatory oversight. “We have to pay $2.3 million a year for regulation,” Yother said. “We have given them $9,583,000 over a six-year period directly from purses.

“We used to get $800,000 for the breed program,” he added. “Last year I got $200,000 for breeders. In this year's budget they took it out.

“Turf Paradise is on life support,” Yother continued. “We need some form of alternative gaming. We need to get rid of the (Regulatory Wagering Assessment).”

The HBPA's relationship with track owner Simms “is the best it's been in a number of years,” said Yother. “People on the other side don't agree with that, but I think we've got a better relationship than we've ever had. We're together. Management respects us more now than they have in the past.”


  • Concerned

    Horse crap! Yothers is Jerry’s puppet.
    When Mike Chambers was removed by management over purse distribution questions Yothers defended management in an HBPA called meeting in the kitchen. My understanding is HBPA is to protect the horsemen not play council for the track owner.

  • 5times5

    There’s your problem….Yother states ATBA
    and HBPA have different interests. Both organizations better get on the same page and put racing in the front. Not your own personal agendas. Yother and the boys bend over to Jerry every time. But! They always get a little reward for it. The rest of you are on your own. May I suggest you all sign out of the HBPA immediately after the election. Break em financially.

  • 5times5

    Yother only learned of the “restrriction” in Dec.? Did he not participate in the waiver?? If not…who gave the waiver?
    Cut from 10 members to 7 due to lack of participation. Well, quit eliminating people WHO WANT TO PARTICIPATE!!!

  • Joe Weaver

    anyone that thinks moron simms likes horsemen must have voted for hillary too he would shut down racing if he could only simulcast

    • Jonny

      Hum worth thinking about!!!!

      • 5times5

        Simms goal has always been to eliminate LIVE RACING!

      • Bobbie Grissom

        Consider this: last year the AHBPA board extended their term without an election for another year; this year, a bylaw was enacted specifically to exclude John Campo from running for the board; others have been denied the opportunity to run for the board by the denial of waivers that have been freely handed out in the past; the race days are being given away-be aware that our split is greater for live racing; the OTB split was reduced from our statutory guarantee of a 50/50 to a 60/40 split-and the 60 doesn’t go to the horsemen. You’ve seen the amount of the purse loss resulting from this. Ask: why did this board reduce the number of board members from 10 to 7. Ask: what is the summer OTB split? Ask: how much more will the horsemen have to pay from their summer share this year to make up for the current purse shortage. If this is the cost for “better management relations” no thanks.

  • Bristling

    Wow unbelievable. I hope Mr. Campo sues them !!!!!

  • Peter Scarnati

    This story is laden with so many laughable highlights it’s hard to know where to begin!
    Firstly, I think more detail is needed to fully explain how exactly it is that the ATBA qualifies as a group which meets the standards of an “opposing horsemen’s group” to the AHBPA. On its face, it seems quite odd to me the Breeders would be “an opposition group” to the HBPA. But, then again, we are talking about horsemen here.
    Secondly, Yother says “we are enforcing the bylaws.” Of course you are sir. Except, of course, as they pertain to the eligibility of Santoro, Vaughn and Matthews, which comprise 30% of the Board. I wonder whether he made that completely absurd statement with a straight face.
    Thirdly, is Yother serious when he says he only learned of the restriction in the bylaws in December? According to the story, this restriction has been in place for THIRTY-THREE YEARS!!! Hard to believe the PRESIDENT of this organization would be so ignorant of the rules of the group WHICH HE LEADS. But, then again, we are talking about horsemen here.
    Finally, I find it perfectly reasonable that the State requires the industry to pay to regulate itself. It would be a complete waste of taxpayers funds to have the State pay for it. After all, Yother himself is quoted openly admitting the “place is on life support.” If that is true, I can’t see how it would be justified to spend taxpayer money to regulate it. If they can’t afford this expense, I would suggest it is time to move on and close the place down.

    • Hamish

      Or my favorite, coming from the leader of a horse organization in a failing horse state, “The last thing I need is to get a bunch in here that want to change things.” I guess he’s right, why change when you can just stay on and ride the Titanic all the way to the ocean floor!

      • Peter Scarnati

        Perfect. Great observation.
        Another classic example of a horseman opening his mouth and making a fool of himself. Happens so often, it’s getting boring.

      • 5times5

        Perfectly stated Hamish. The gall of denigrating someone who wants to come on board and help make Az racing better is laughable. Yother says Az Racing is on life support and basically is also eluding to the fact they don’t want anybody that knows CPR to help save it!! But I’m telling you, the ballot count had better be watched closely. Where are the ballots being sent to? AZ HBPA office? I don’t know about now days but they used to be piled up in the HBPA office and counted in the back room. AFTER…..they have been peeked at maybe?? And one’s that don’t fit the agenda are tossed?? Just asking…..

        • Stacy Campo

          The ballots are out and we have received them, I hope! They go back to the hbpa office where they have 3 people that have been counting them in Prior years. They have no outside official to come in to verify. I think they should have an additional person outside of racing may be an official or attorney to watch over the ballot count and also make sure that they are received and handled properly. But again who knows what happens and if they get lost accidentally. I think we should have a recount with an outside group to make sure that they are correct. At least that’s what I think but what do I know. Being a Arizona breeder is a conflict to HBPA. I thought we were helping keep racing alive! I guess maybe we’re more of a threat with our little Thoroughbred farms.

          • 5times5

            You have got to do something about that count.

          • Stacy Campo

            Any suggestions? All are welcome

      • Concerned Observer

        Don’t you wonder what is so seductive or lucrative about being on an HBPA board that makes the entrenched in-group work so hard to retain their seats? They sure work hard to keep a thankless job….Hmmmmmm?

    • 5times5

      Yother need to keep his,mouth shut because everything he says is BS and incorrect.

  • Stacy Campo

    If the Azhbpa is being legit why was National HBPA president Leroy Guessman hired as AZHBPA executive director in January, with bylaws being changed mid January including section 5, and board reduction. He has a lot of horsepower for this position, is he here to marshall the election? Could anyone answer this for me, just wondering?

    • Stacy Campo


  • El Espresso

    Turf Paradise is a joke !! Even bigger joke is Texas HBPA… Feds ought to audit their elections as well. Both states need to look at the recent Louisiana scandal…. why are these trying to stay onboard so hard?? They are crooks and it is hard to cover your tracks when the familiar faces are replaced with new ones !!

    • Stacy Campo

      I will say calling my native track a joke is wrong. It’s a livelihood for people here for many years and we do take pride in being in this state running it here at Turf Paradise. And for some of us it is a paradise, think about it, eight months of incredible weather, a track owner that is able to keep it up and running and has to get some kudos for that. Plus some of the most amazing people and some of the most beautiful Farms that really does believe that Arizona has a mark in United States racing. At least don’t kill my dream of finding a Breeders Cup or Kentucky Derby winner one day that is bred and owned/ trained from Arizona. It almost happened for the Owens and I truly believe it could happen again.

      • 5times5

        I would say Tup has stayed running in SPITE of the owner.

  • El Espresso

    Folks ought to take few minutes and look at the TX HBPA especially the quarter horses… will make the AZ people thankful !!

  • James Nun

    The same FBI agents that audited Louisiana HBPA need to investigate Arizona. I’m sure they will find how corrupt it is and indite a few characters.

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