MGM Mirage’s PR firm busted for phony anti-gambling mailers

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(Lori Wortz, partner at Sterling)

Mike Connell, a reporter at the small daily Port Huron Times-Herald in Michigan uncovered some serious opposition astroturfing yesterday by one Lori Wortz, a heavy in Michigan GOP politics, and partner at the Sterling Corporation PR agency.

Accoring to the piece, Wortz created and incorporated faux-grassroots “Gambling Watch” just weeks ago, and sent out mailers to alert citizens of two new casino projects in the state. Sterling represents competitor MGM Mirage.

A quick search of the Internets reveals Wortz’s deep, faith-based connections with the MI GOP, dating back to Pat Robertson’s Presidential campaign. She’s currently–or at least till today–on Mitt Romney’s “faith & values” committee in Michigan, one state he managed to carry in the primaries. She was also quoted in an Financial Times piece about the win, though was not identified as a GOP operative.

Our email exchange with Connell showed his good work did not go unsung:.

I am listening to the congressional hearing Webcast and taking notes so it looks as if I’ll be tied up for awhile. The Sterling story has come up a couple of times during the hearing. John Dingell mentioned the story and deplored the tactics, as did Candice Miller, who again equated it to Jack Abramoff tactics. Shelley Berkley of Nevada took exception to equating anyone with Abramoff.

Though the scoop was not credited directly, the mailers did get mentioned in the AP story about the hearing.

PS: Click through to the Sterling site. The flash navigation looks and sounds like a deck of shuffling playing cards. Hit me! Blackjack!