Posted on: June 9, 2021, 11:54h.
Last updated on: June 9, 2021, 12:08h.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) is denying any allegations that political contributions to his 2020 reelection campaign had any bearing on his preference in selecting a winning casino bid for the Virginia capital city.
Stoney, who easily won reelection last year with nearly 38 percent of the vote amid a crowded six-candidate race, received $20,000 from an organization called the Black Opportunity Council (BOC). Among the individuals who donated to the political action committee was its founder, Greg Cummings.
Cummings is an investor in Urban One’s casino venture, which Richmond’s Resort Casino Evaluation Panel deemed the winning bid last month. The project is known as ONE Casino + Resort. In November, Richmond voters will decide whether to authorize the $562.5 million undertaking.
With concerns raised by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Cummings denied any connection between the Stoney donation and the casino effort.
There are no ties,” Cummings declared. “[The Black Opportunity Council] advocates for Black inclusion and equity issues. That is its purpose. It has nothing to do with a casino.”
Urban One’s casino project includes a large group of diverse investors. The development, Urban One says, provides “opportunities for minority ownership” and is “about lifting people up and building wealth within the Richmond community.”
A spokesperson for Stoney said the BOC contribution had no impact on the mayor’s decision to recommend Urban One.
Urban One Unaware of Contributions
Publicly traded on Nasdaq, Urban One is a media conglomerate that claims to be “The most trusted source in the African-American community.” Because it has no experience running casinos, the company has partnered with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) in developing and operating the casino complex.
As for whether Urban One used its political prowess to gain Stoney’s support, the firm says that’s unfounded.
“I’m incredibly proud of our record of support, which is fully transparent and shows our focus on education, workforce development, and opportunity equity,” Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins said of the company’s political donations.
“Having said that, we have not donated to or met with the Black Opportunity Fund. We cannot speak to what our individual investors have done. We have never asked, nor is it relevant to their participation with ONE, what groups or political candidates our investors support,” Liggins explained.
Urban, P2E Uninvolved
The BOC has also dismissed any insinuations that its donation to Stoney was to influence his backing of Urban One’s project over the other submissions.
While Mr. Cummings is a member of our Advisory Board and founding director, I was not aware of his investment in the project, as his personal investments have nothing to do with the work of the BOC, and frankly, do not concern me,” Ross Williams, executive director of the BOC, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I can assure you there are no nefarious dealings, as have been insinuated.”
Campaign filings showed that Stoney took in more than $224,000 in donations in September alone. As mayor, Stoney receives an annual salary of $125,000.