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Ex-Prince George’s Co. delegate raising anti-gambling funds

A former Prince George’s County lawmaker is raising money to pay legal fees for a group that filed a lawsuit to overturn passage of Maryland’s expanded gambling referendum.

Gerron S. Levi, a former Democrat in the House of Delegates, asked for donations in an email to an undisclosed list of recipients.

“As I have mentioned to many of you, I am charged with fundraising for a gambling litigation legal defense fund that will finance legal expenses for the lawsuit that has been filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court challenging the vote count on Question 7,” Levi wrote in the email, obtained by The Daily Record. “You all have offered to help and I need your help ASAP!”

Reached by email Monday, the former elected official said she had planned this case with Prince George’s County Councilman Thomas Dernoga for months.

“I have gotten involved because I remain concerned about the social costs and long-term consequences of 24-hour gambling and thousands of slots on the county’s families and the larger community,” Levi said.

Levi has reinvented herself as an anti-gambling activist after serving one term in the House from 2007 to 2011 and losing to Rushern L. Baker III in a bid to become Prince George’s county executive.

Most recently, she formed a coalition called Stop Slots in Prince George’s County that campaigned against a gambling expansion that will, in part, put a casino at National Harbor in Oxon Hill or Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington. Almost 60 percent of Prince George’s voters decided in favor of expansion.

In the email, Levi said she needed to raise between “$8,000 and $10,000,” all of which would go to Accokeek, Mattawoman, Piscataway Creeks Communities Council, which has “agreed to collect and segregate the funds on behalf of the legal defense effort.”

The lawsuit, filed Nov. 2, contends that a majority of eligible voters in Maryland had to approve Question 7, which allows the licensing of a Prince George’s County casino and table games such as poker at every Maryland slots parlor.

Daniel A. Friedman, counsel to the General Assembly in the Office of the Maryland Attorney General, wrote an opinion in 2011 that said “a simple majority of the votes cast on the question is all that is necessary to declare the measure passed.” Friedman was responding to a question asked by House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, about how gambling could be expanded in the state.

Timothy F. Maloney, a state legislator from 1979-1995, and a lawyer with Greenbelt-based Joseph, Greenwald and Laake P.A, has filed a motion to dismiss as an intervening defendant, saying the lawsuit’s claim has “no legal merit.”