Mike Stack on the Gov Ticket is a Serious Gamble

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After spending more than $600,000 on ads promoting his lieutenant governor campaign, State Senator Mike Stack has made gains in the polls and is now in a statistical tie for first place. But should Stack make it into the #2 slot on the ticket, there’s a chance his long history of questionable land deals with casinos could distract attention from the top-of-the-ticket candidate.

Over the span of the last decade, the Philadelphia Daily News and other news organizations have detailed the circumstances surrounding Stack’s financial interest in land sought by casino developers.

It all started in 2003 when the General Assembly voted to sell water rights to 22 acres of land worth $1.5 million dollars to the Beach Street Corp. for only $100,000, citing environmental contamination as the reason for the low price.

Stack and his four siblings together owned 20% of Beach Street Corp., which was one of two companies that owned a 46 acre riverfront tract alongside the 22 acres of water rights.

Stack did not vote on the sale in the Senate, but he also failed to disclose his ownership stake, as required by Senate rules and the state Constitution.

Stack’s father Michael Stack Jr., who was the 58th Democratic Ward Leader owned another 20% of Beach Street Corp., but he gave that stock to his wife because he was facing felony forgery and conspiracy charges.

In 2004, Beach Street Corp. optioned the land to Las Vegas-based Ameristar Casinos for a reported $37 million, part of an effort to assemble a 46-acre tract for a casino. This drew the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Harrisburg, which in turn led to Ameristar reworking the option to cut out the Stack-owned land.

As a result of Stack’s dealings, Governor Ed Rendell instituted a new policy halting real estate investors from buying state land on the cheap and then turning around and selling it for to gaming corporations for a massive profit.

But that’s not the end of the story—it happened again just last year when developer Steve Wynn was applying for a license to build a separate casino.

Wynn told the Daily News in June of 2013 that “if a state senator is a beneficiary, then he’s a lucky guy. They could end up with $20 million-$30 million,” Wynn said. “Wow.”

Now imagine if the deal goes through this summer with Stack in the lieutenant governor slot of the ticket. Just when Pennsylvania Democrats need attention focused on Governor Corbett, the attention could turn to Mike Stack.

That’s a dangerous gamble.

About Jake Sternberger

Jake Sternberger was a contributing writer at Keystone Politics from 2011 to 2014.
This entry was posted in Elections, Governor.

9 Responses to Mike Stack on the Gov Ticket is a Serious Gamble

  1. Marty Marks says:

    Jake, I am a fan and regular reader of Keystone Politics. Generally, I think your reporting and opining is well researched, thoughtful and well written. However, your suggestion that “Mike Stack on the Gov ticket is a serious gamble”, fails to live-up to what I have come to expect from you.

    Your concerns are such old news. No serious reporter, editor or news outlet has given this story a second thought in the context of the Lieutenant Governor’s race or any other context as far as that goes. The issue has been fully and publicly vetted and disclosed. As you stated and others reported, Senator Stack did not vote on the sale of the property in question and did nothing in violation of local, state, or federal law and Senate rules.

    It is nonsense to think this will be an issue in the Governor’s race. If Tom Corbett brings it up he will have to explain why he didn’t do anything about it when he was Attorney General. Keep in mind, this was the Attorney General that declared open season on Democratic legislators and would have prosecuted a state rep or senator for jay walking if he had photographic evidence or a sober witness. The reason Attorney General Corbett didn’t do anything about it at the time is because there was nothing there to do anything about.

    On another note, you have used your keyboard the last couple of days to suggest there is something wrong that Senator Stack stated in an interview that as Lieutenant Governor he would publicly disagree with the Governor if they were at odds over a serious issue. I would think you would applaud him for taking that position as opposed to criticize his independent thinking.

    Wouldn’t it have been nice if Jim Cawley would have publicly disagreed with Tom Corbett when he gutted public education, cut corporate taxes and gave gas drillers a pass or told women to “just close their eyes”? I am not suggesting our Democratic nominee will follow on that track, but I would like to think the person the voters choose to be the Democratic gubernatorial running mate will not be a Stepford Wife.

    When it comes to the progressive Democratic values that I believe you and I share along with many of your readers, I will be the first to say that Mike Stack’s record is not perfect. But it is damn good, nearly flawless. It is wrong when demanding perfection becomes the enemy of achieving excellence. And Mike Stack has been an excellent progressive legislator for 13-plus years championing the very same issues you champion in your posts. He has built that record of achievement representing a blue collar Senate District that doesn’t always share his point of view, especially on social issues.

    Mike Stack helps the Democratic ticket this fall far more than any other LG candidate. His win assures that there will be a candidate on the ballot from the most important Democratic voter base in the Commonwealth to help drive critical voter turnout. And it assures that there will be a fully vetted Democrat running for Lieutenant with a nearly flawless, 13-plus year, progressive voting record.

    For purposes of full disclosure, I am Mike Stack’s campaign manager.

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  4. Observer says:

    I am outta this website. It’s not news, it’s only opinion pieces by the staff, usually attacking anyone who disagrees with them. It’s not even truly “Liberal” given all the Third Way centrists it backs. Waste of bandwidth…

    • Jon Geeting says:

      lol where does this claim to be a straight news site? It’s a blog written by liberal partisans. Sometimes there’s original reporting, sometimes there’s analysis. If you don’t like it, I’m sure there are plenty of other daily liberal blogs about PA politics for you out there.

  5. Richard Lloyd says:

    Mike Stack is a serious danger to our second amendment rights. He is just another gun grabbing liberal that should just move to where they have unconstitutionally taken away rights to bear arms or certain arms. So pack up and move! Concerned citizen

  6. Kevin says:

    Stack has a real pro here in this Marty Marks character. What campaign manager for a statewide candidate has the time to write a in-depth rebuttal of a blog post? Shouldn’t he be finalizing GOTV plans or at least booking an election night party? If Stack’s manager thinks this is an good use of his time, then Mike Stack must be in serious trouble.

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