Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ilitch not immune from falling residential real estate values

In 1994, Mike and Marian Ilitch paid $2.5 million for a 5,000 square foot, penthouse (4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths) in the Presidential Place condominium development at 800 S. Ocean Blvd, in Boca Raton, Florida.

According to the Palm Beach County Appraiser, the penthouse unit was valued at $3.2 million in 2006 but dropped to $3 million in 2007 and is now currently valued at $2,827,500. 2007 property taxes on the Ilitch penthouse were 52,967.50.

Seven I's Inc., another lesser known Ilitch Family enterprise

Seven I's Inc. is an enterprise owned by the Ilitch Family. Seven I's appears to own a number of the Little Caesars Pizza stores across the U.S. that aren't otherwise franchised. (See: Mantra Vital Info).

According to the most recent corporate information filed with the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth, Michael Ilitch is President and Marian Ilitch is Secretary/Treasurer and each of their seven children is a Vice President. However, siblings Denise, Mike Jr., Ron and Lisa Ilitch Murray are Directors of the enterprise.

John Kotlar, Vice President of Tax Affairs at Ilitch Holdings, Inc., is the resident agent for Seven I's Inc. and numerous other Ilitch Family affiliates.

Attorney Joseph H. Ehrlich filed articles of organization last year forming a related Ilitch Family entity, Seven I's Realty Holdings, LLC. Ehrlich represented Marian Ilitch in her successful 2005 bid to acquire 100% ownership of MotorCity Casino. (Ehrlich and Ilitch are pictured here in a photograph snapped at a 2005 MGCB hearing)

Ehrlich's law firm is Ehrlich, Foley & Serwer PC. His partner William Serwer acts as corporate attorney for other affiliates of Marian Ilitch and her casino gaming partner Michael J. Malik, Sr.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Michigan Treasury Department acting as custodian of Ilitch family assets

The Michigan Department of Treasury has millions in lost or forgotten assets from dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, valuables left in safe deposit boxes, stock certificates and the like. Because these properties were considered abandoned and unclaimed by the bank or company entrusted with them, they are turned over to the state, as required by law.

TVT has learned that the Michigan Department of Treasury is the custodian of unclaimed assets belonging to members of the Ilitch family. These assets were turned over to the state from companies including The Walt Disney Company, Tiffany Company, Daimler Chrysler AG, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Metropolitan Title Co., Verizon Wireless and others.

Michigan gaming regulations restrict relationship between Ilitch-owned enterprises

Excerpted from a story, "MotorCity gets in the concert game," published 10.23.08 in the Detroit Free Press:

    As explained by Bill Borenstein, MotorCity Casino's vice president of entertainment and theater; and reported by the Free Press:
    "MotorCity Casino is owned by Marian Ilitch. Among her family's holdings is Olympia Entertainment, which arranges concerts at venues such as the Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena. But because of Michigan regulations that limit the financial partnerships of gaming operations, Olympia is not involved in MotorCity's concert booking. Casino officials say they hope to take advantage of Olympia's muscle down the road."

Even more connections between Michigan Casino Promoters and Rep. Rangel

There’s yet another direct connection between Michigan casino interests attempting to push their schemes through Congress and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY 15th), powerful Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.

In 2007, shortly before the introduction of H.R. 4115, the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians switched lobbying firms and hired David Jones (Capitol Counsel LLC), a lobbyist who "The Hill" reports has been Rangel’s fundraiser for a decade. The Sault Tribe has paid Jones’ and his firm $500,000.

The Sault Tribe is one of two tribes with Reservations on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that had pushed the 110th Congress to approve H.R. 4115 and H.R. 2176, a sister bill advanced by backers of the Bay Mills Indian Community.

Both bills would have granted Congressional approval of questionable land claims settlement agreements. Those settlements were crafted to grant the tribes, and those bankrolling their plans, the right to build and operate tax-free off-reservation casinos some 300 miles away from their existing reservations in separate Detroit area suburbs (Romulus and Port Huron). Both tribes already own and operate casinos in Michigan.

The Bay Mills Indians have the backing of partners Marian Ilitch and Michael Malik, experienced Michigan gaming entrepreneurs. That pair is also bankrolling federal approvals for Indian casinos in New York & California. This week TVT reported that in 2007, several Ilitch/Malik casino affiliates and the Bay Mills Indians also added a new lobbyist with close ties to Rep. Rangel.

Annie Minguez, a personal assistant/legislative aide whom Rep. Rangel refers to by name in his 2007 memoir, left the New York Congressman’s office last year to join Wheat Government Relations and begin a career as a lobbyist.

The Wheat firm represents the Bay Mills Indian Community and other Ilitch/Malik related entities including Blue Water Resorts, Gateway Casino Resorts, and the Shinnecock Indian Nation. Minguez was quickly added to those clients' lobbying rosters. In all, entities connected to Ilitch/Malik paid the Wheat firm $640,000 in 2007-2008.

The Detroit Free Press previously reported on $30,000 in campaign contributions directed to Rep. Charles Rangel (D–NY 15th) by Malik and Ilitch.

Still more votes have been counted in Barstow but the race for Mayor remains unchanged

For at least the fourth time since election day (11.04.08), the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters has updated the count of votes cast. In the week since election day, another 660 votes have been counted and added to the race for Mayor of Barstow. While the total vote count for each of the Mayoral candidates has increased during this period, the outcome remains the same. The Registrar anticipates another update at the end of the work day on Monday, 11.17.08. But for now, here are the most recent numbers:

    Joe Gomez (Mayor-elect)
    2405 votes (45.51%)

    Lawrence Dale (incumbent)
    1904 votes (36.03%)

    Nathaniel Pickett
    975 votes (18.45%)
In the race to fill two open City Council seats left vacant by the departures of Councilman Steve Curran and Gomez, candidates Tim Saenz and Carmen Hernandez hold onto their narrow leads:
    Timothy Saenz
    1861 votes (20.79%)

    Carmen Hernandez
    1826 votes (20.40%)

    Willie Hailey, Sr.
    1801 votes (20.12%)

    Richard Villegas
    1420 votes (15.86%)

    Herchel Deaton
    695 votes (7.76%)

    Marvin Ellis
    689 votes (7.70%)

    Manuel Gurule
    659 votes (7.36%)

San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters: 2008 Presidential Election Results

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ilitch and partner contributed to Rep. Rangel then hired his aide as a lobbyist

Todd Spangler at the The Detroit Free Press previously reported:

    The Ilitches and Malik have contributed more than $30,000 to Charles B. Rangel, a New York Democrat, or his leadership PAC.

    Although he doesn't sit on any of the committees tied to Indian gaming, Rangel, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, could be critical to getting federal recognition for the Shinnecock tribe, which in turn could help them get the Long Island casino Malik and Ilitch want.
Spangler's references are to Mike and Marian Ilitch (they co-founded Little Ceasars Pizza, he owns the Detroit Tigers and she owns MotorCity Casino); and Michael J. Malik, Sr., their casino syndication and development partner.

Nearly half the $30,000 Spangler references was paid by the Detroit trio to Rangel's campaign on 8.23.07, the same day some of the biggest most influential PACs in Washington D.C. gave tens of thousands to Rangel too; among those, the Major League Baseball Commissioner's Office PAC to which Mr. & Mrs. Ilitch are also contributors.

Then shortly after making those most recent contributions to Rangel, several entities that are Ilitch/Malik casino development affiliates or partners added a new lobbyist to their roster, Annie Minguez who landed at Wheat Government Relations (Wheat GR).

Minguez represented these clients for four consecutive reporting periods when Wheat GR finally disclosed in 3rd Quarter '08 reports that Minguez had a previous "Covered Official Position." Minguez, they reported, was Rep. Rangel's former "Legislative Assistant." In fact, Rangel references Minguez as his "personal assistant" in the 2007 published memoir, "And I haven't had a bad day since."

Annie Minguez is a lobbyist for these clients:
A fifth Ilitch/Malik affiliate, Barwest LLC, retains Wheat Government Relations, but Minguez is not a registered Barwest lobbyist.

A collection of Ilitch affiliates with revenues reported at $1.6 billion only spends $14,000 lobbying in Lansing?

Who are they kidding?

Michigan’s Secretary of State maintains a free, online searchable data base with access to information required to be reported routinely under Michigan’s Lobby Registration Act.

That makes it easy for organizations like the Michigan Campaign Finance Network ( to publish, among other things, an annual list of Michigan’s Top 200 Lobbyists. In 2007, those 200 lobbyists each reported spending between $33,700 and $1.4 million on advocacy. In all, Michigan lobbyists reported spending $32.1 million in 2007.

But take a look at that list. You won’t find Ilitch Holdings, Inc., ranked 300th on Forbes' List of America's Largest Private Companies, on that list of Michigan's Top 200 Lobbyists -- nor will you find any of a dozen plus other major Ilitch affiliates including Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, Little Caesars Pizza, MotorCity Casino, Olympia Development, Olympia Entertainment, Uptown Entertainment, etc..

In fact, while Ilitch Holdings, Inc. reports its collection of Michigan-based companies has annual combined revenues totaling $1.6 billion or more; the same collection of companies reported spending just $27,650 on State lobbying activity over almost two years. And then consider that, based on information available at, these same people and their partner contributed more than $234,000 to federal political candidates and committees during the same two years – and many of those contributions are capped at $2,300 each.

Considering the mountain of tax and regulatory policy, alone, that is under consideration in Lansing at any given time -- matters which could have very positive or very negative impacts on any number of Ilitch affiliates that span the range from sports, gaming and entertainment ventures to hospitality and food service enterprises to major real estate management contracts and development projects -- it’s curious that only two of the Ilitch affiliates have registered their lobbying activity; and even more curious that, in total, they report having spent less than $14,000 per year on lobbying expenses. Now ... take a moment to recognize that such an amount represents less than 1.5 weeks worth of work by a $250 an hour attorney/lobbyist.

Who are they trying to fool?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Barstow Mayor fails in re-election bid despite campaign help from Michigan casino interests

Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale appears to have been defeated in his re-election bid, losing to first-term City Councilman Joe Gomez.

Approximately an hour after the polls closed last night, the Desert Dispatch reported that "Early results favor Dale for mayor." But, while Dale won among absentee voters (typically the first ballots counted after the polls close), throughout the course of the evening, as the Registrar of Voters continued to count ballots, Gomez played catch-up and at the time this post was updated, the Semi-Final Results posted on the Registrar's Web site indicate Gomez has eclipsed Dale's early lead and is ahead now by more than 450 votes:

    Joe D. Gomez (Mayor-elect)
    2385 votes (45.72%)

    Lawrence E. Dale (defeated incumbent)
    1886 votes (35.99%)

    Nathaniel H. Pickett
    969 votes (18.49%)
According to reports in the Desert Dispatch, Dale outspent Gomez by margins of 4-to-1 and had hoped to benefit from a last minute wave of direct mail and robocall attacks paid for by a so-called "grassroots" group that is a front for the Michigan casino interests behind BarWest LLC.

Since Dale was first elected in 2000, he had championed Indian gaming in Barstow; however, throughout his tenure he used his mayoral powers and resorted to other extreme measures to guarantee Detroit-based BarWest would have the exclusive rights to develop any Indian casino that would be built in Barstow. Dale often battled with Gomez and other Council members as he was relentless in his attempts to block proposals by any other casino developers.

Arguably, Barstow's economy has been struggling for a generation. Dale inherited the problem but has realized little to improve things. Unfortunately, the economic development plans he hatched during his first term as Mayor had a BarWest Casino Resort as the cornerstone. And eight years later, despite false hopes and promises made to voters by Dale and BarWest over and over again, BarWest repeatedly hit road blocks, failing to get the necessary state and federal approvals for its various schemes.

originally posted 11.05.08 @ 7:46 AM; ballot counts were updated @ 12:22 PM ; ballot counts updated again on 11.10.08 when the Registrar of Voters posted another 622 votes in the race (% outcomes virtually unchanged). maps the Muckety Mucks affiliated with Ilitch Holdings and more has come up with an interactive Web tool for mapping the social networks of Muckety Mucks (people and organizations). It's a tool that let's you explore the theories represented by "Six Degrees of Separation." was founded by the same people who started ePodunk -- people who once worked at the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press and who have backgrounds in journalism, technology and online publishing.

And as it turns out, has already established the basic of a social network map for Mucketies affiliated with Ilitch Holdings, Inc. (pictured here). has also given TVT the tools to embed the Muckety Map of Ilitch affiliates right here on TVT. Find that tool by scrolling down to the bottom of your screen.

click graphic to see map on
or scroll down to use the interactive tool here

Could Rep. Young's controversial $10M Coconut Rd. earmark pave the way for Boston Red Sox?

The News-Press in Fort Meyers, Florida, reports that property in south Lee County, owned by Michigan developer Daniel J. Aronoff, is one of five sites under consideration for development of a new Boston Red Sox Spring Training Complex by 2012.

Aronoff's Florida land is under consideration because the Red Sox want a new complex with a stadium and practice field. In their current situation, the Red Sox play their games in downtown Fort Myers at City of Palms Park but hold early-spring workouts several miles away.

However, nothing is ever quite that easy. And, neither Aronoff or the two-square miles of wetlands property which sits along Interstate 75 are without controversy

See, both are at the center of a federal corruption investigation involving U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-AK) who earmarked $10 million for a Coconut Road interchange study after a 2005 Estero-area fundraiser, which Aronoff attended, netting Young about $40,000.

Capitol Hill Lobbyist Richard Alcalde (Potomac Partners DC) is also at the heart of the Coconut Road earmark investigation. Alcalde represented Aronoff's Landon Companies and Alcalde has been identified as one of a select group of "A-Team" lobbyists who are especially close to Young.

Alcalde represents another Michigan developer, Michael J. Malik, Sr., and Malik's casino gaming affiliate MJM Enterprises. Malik and a partner, Mrs. Marian Ilitch, are behind plans to advance several Indian casinos across the country. Alcalde represents one of their Native American partners as well, the Shinnecock Indian Nation of New York.

Like Aronoff, Malik and the Ilitch family have contributed and raised thousands for Rep. Young's committees and flown him around in their private aircraft; and in return, Young has helped advance plans they back for an Indian casino in Port Huron, Michigan.

And there's another Major League Baseball (MLB) connection too. Marian's husband, Mike Ilitch, owns the Detroit Tigers.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

MotorCity Casino Lobbying Activity reported to be a fraction of Competitors' Spending

Of the various affiliates under the Ilitch Holdings, Inc. umbrella, we can find just two that are registered to lobby in Lansing: Detroit Entertainment, LLC and Detroit Tigers, Inc.

Detroit Entertainment LLC (DE LLC), the company that owns MotorCity Casino (MCC), is registered as a Lobbyist in the State Capitol. Rhonda Cohen, MotorCity’s COO, is recorded as the lobbyist’s signatory.

Cohen reported lobbying expenses of $20,900 in 2007; and just $6,750.00 so far for 2008. That's less than 10% of the lobbying expenses reported by MotorCity Casino's two competitors.

Cohen also records that DE LLC employs three firms as its lobbyist agents. Two of the three are among the top 100 lobbyists/agents in Lansing:
By contrast MotorCity Casino’s competitors have far out-paced the Ilitch gaming hall in lobbying expenses.

MGM Grand Detroit reported spending $124,946.50 in 2007 and $94,325.00 already in 2008. Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage is also registered as a Lansing Lobbyist but reported no expenses in 2007 or 2008. Both entities report employing two lobbying/law firms to represent their additional lobbyist agent needs: Dickinson Wright PLLC and Public Affairs Associates, Inc. (ranked #4).

Greektown reported lobbying expenses of $61,400.00 in 2007 but has spent just $2,400.00 so far this year. Greektown employs seven individuals and three larger firms as its lobbyist agents including Cusmano Kandler & Reed Inc. (ranked #17), Dykema Gossett PLLC (#65) and Scofes & Associates Consulting Inc. (ranked #20).

Michigan Campaign Finance Network: Michigan’s Top 200 Lobbyist 2007

Detroit Tigers registered as Lansing Lobbyist but don't report Expenses

Detroit Tigers, Inc. is one of just two affiliates of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. to be registered to undertake lobbying activity in Michigan’s State Capitol. But the MLB franchise hasn't reported any lobbying expenses since 2003.

Stephen J. Quinn, Tigers’ VP Finance & Administration and CFO, is recorded as the lobbyist’s signatory. They have reported no additional lobbying expenses since 2003.

The Detroit Tigers report employing two lobbying/law firms as their lobbying agents in Lansing: James H. Karoub Associates and Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Assoc.; they are ranked #2 and #6 respectively among Michigan’s Top 200 Lobbying Firms.

Detroit Entertainment LLC, the company that owns MotorCity Casino is the other Ilitch Holdings, Inc. affiliate registered to lobby in Lansing.

The Detroit Lions (NFL) are registered to lobby and the last two years they report spending a total of $6,375 in additional lobbying expenses. They employ Public Affairs Associates Inc. (ranked #4) as their lobbyist agent.

Palace Sports and Entertainment, affiliated with the Detroit Pistons (NBA), is registered to lobby in Lansing and reports additional lobbying expenses of $14,437.94 the last two years. They employ the Kelly Cawthorne firm (ranked #9) as lobbyist agents.

In 2007, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and others in Lansing were considering a “luxury tax” which would have added a 6% charge on tickets to sporting events and concerts. It was reported that the normally competitive owners of sports team like Bill Davidson and Mike Ilitch had come together to block the proposal. They organized a so-called grassroots organization, “Fans Against the Ticket Tax,” and set up a Web site, It’s unclear what additional lobbying activity was waged in Lansing and if so, what expenses were reported and by whom.

Ilitch Holdings VP Failed to Disclose his Employer on Lobbying Registrations

Michael D. McLauchlan joined Ilitch Holdings, Inc. in May as Vice President of Government Relations. (Press Release). According to the Michigan Secretary of State's Web site he is registered in Lansing as a "lobbyist agent" which is defined as "a person (an individual or firm) that receives compensation or reimbursement in excess of the current threshold for lobbying on behalf of employers or clients."

Since joining Ilitch Holdings, McLauchlan has updated the mailing and business addresses on his lobbyist registration forms to reflect that consistent with the address of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. at the Fox Office Center, 2211 Woodward Ave. in Detroit. BUT, according to records available for review online, McLauchlan failed to report the name of his new "employer" when he updated the other details. His records currently read "No Employers on file."

Ilitch Holdings, Inc. provides technical and professional services to some well recognized brand companies owned by Michael and/or Marian Ilitch. The Ilitch companies in the food, sports and entertainment industries include: Little CaesarsPizza, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, the Detroit Red Wings, OlympiaEntertainment, Olympia Development, Little Caesars Pizza Kits FundraisingProgram, Champion Foods and Uptown Entertainment. Michael Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers. Marian Ilitch is the sole owner of the MotorCity CasinoHotel.

Two Ilitch affiliates have maintained seperate lobbying registrations: Detroit Tigers, Inc. and Detroit Entertainment LLC (of which MotorCity Casino is a d/b/a). Neither of those entities notes any relationship with McLauchlan. A third Ilitch affiliate, Little Ceasars Enterprises Inc. terminated a previous lobbying registration.

Michigan Secretary of State's Searchable Database: Lobbying/Lobbyists

Ilitch Holdings CEO has Registered Interest in MotorCity Casino

According to notice filed with the Michigan Department of State's Bureau of Elections, Christopher Ilitch, CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., acquired an interest in MotorCity Casino as a key or managerial employee of the casino licensee Detroit Entertainment, LLC on 7.07.06. Although his interest was due to be disclosed on 7.12.06, it wasn’t reported to state officials until 3.07.07. His interest is noted now as "active."

Under Michigan's Casino Interest Registration Act (1997), individuals with registered casino interests are prohibited from making contributions to local and state political candidates and committees including PACs and political parties that are allowed to contribute to candidates. The Act does not prohibit contributions to federal candidates or committees.

Ilitch’s mother Marian Ilitch is the sole owner of Detroit Entertainment, LLC, the licensee of MotorCity Casino which is a d/b/a. She has been registered with an active interest as an officer of the casino’s licensee since 12.20.99.

Bureau of Elections: Searchable Data Base of Registrants

TVT has welcomed more than 178,000 unique vistors

TVT, founded in December 2006, has averaged more than 20,000 visitors annually. It is produced with the support of scores of individuals from coast-to-coast, each a volunteer citizen activist/jounalist, who review tips and compile the verifiable details and documents that are the hallmark of our content.

Since our first post, more than 178,000 visitors have accessed the details compiled uniquely at TVT.

The citizen activists behind TVT wish to extened a big "THANK YOU" to all those who have provided "tips" -- contributed pictures, documents, link suggestions, leads, reports, insight and comments. Your trust and confidence in TVT has allowed us to create a comprehensive resource that thousands of others -- including bloggers, journalists, Members of Congress and other local citizen activists around the country -- have come to rely upon.

We invite feedback and constructive comment and want you to know you are welcome to do that here in "comments" or by contacting us directly and confidentially via

Google News: Indian Gaming

NEWS: Bay Mills Indian Community & Casino Proposals

NEWS: Shinnecock Indian Nation (Gateway Casino Resorts) Casino Proposals

NY Times: Shinnecock Indian Nation

NEWS: Los Coyotes Indian Tribe

NEWS: Los Coyotes / Barwest Barstow Casino Proposals

NEWS: Michael J. Malik, Sr.

NEWS: Marian Ilitch Mapping Social Networks

Play with the interactive tool here or visit

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certainly must reads!

Ilitch has backed loosing sports teams and pizza, but casinos in Detroit? 10.09.06 ● Marian Ilitch #1 on "25 Most Powerful People" to Watch 2006” global gaming business o1.oo.o5 ● My Kingdom for a Casino Forbes 05.08.06 ● Big Lagoon’s casino dream awakens north coast journal 07.28.05 ● Shinnecocks launch legal claim to Hamptons land 06.16.05 ● Ilitch Plans to Expand Casino Empire 07.05.05 ● Ilitch outbids partners 04.14.05 ● Ilitch enmeshed in NY casino dispute 03.20.05 ● Marian Ilitch, high roller 03.20.05 ● MGM Mirage to Decide on Offer for Casino in Detroit 04.16.05 ● Secret deal for MotorCity alleged 02.15.05 ● Los Coyotes get new developer 02.08.05 Detroit casino figure to finance Barstow project 07.07.03 ● Indian Band trying to put casino in Barstow 06.04.03 Pizza matriarch takes on casino roles 10.23.02 ● Vanderbilt gets short straw in negotiations for a casino Lansing Journal 10.06.02 ● Indians aim to drive family from tribe in vicious dispute san diego union tribune 04.09.00 ●Malik owns 2000 Michigan Quarter Horse of the Year 01.01.00 ● Detroit Team to run Michigan’s newest Indian casino 05.23.99 Tiger ties tangle Marian Ilitch 04.29.99 ● Three investors must sell their Detroit casino interests 04.25.99 ● Partners’ cash revived election; They say money was crucial to Prop-E 04.25.99 Investors have troubled histories las vegas review journal 04.27.99 ● Investor served probation for domestic assault on 12 year old boy 04.25.99 Can a pair win a jackpot?: local men hope to... 03.17.97

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