The FBI executed an arrest and search warrant Monday morning at the home of former state Sen. Brent Waltz of Greenwood, who was tied in January to a federal investigation involving a scheme that allegedly funneled corporate contributions to political candidates.
An FBI spokeswoman confirmed the warrants but did not provide further details or say whether they were related to the earlier investigation, which also involved former executives of Centaur Gaming, a company that previously owned and managed the state’s horse-track casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville.
She referred questions to the U.S. District Attorney’s office, which did not immediately return a call from IBJ.
The investigation became public in January when Republican strategist Chip O’Neil, a vice president at Strategic Campaign Group, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in federal court in Virginia. He admitted to helping collect donations from small donors in the names of candidates who never received the money.
O’Neil said in court that at least eight people, including his girlfriend, were used as conduits for illegal corporate donations to a U.S. House candidate in Indiana. Court documents do not reveal the candidate, but Federal Election Commission records indicate the recipient of the funds was Waltz, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for Indiana’s 9th Congressional District in 2016.
Court records implicated an unnamed Indianapolis gaming company and its vice president and general counsel as part of the scheme. The Gaming Commission later acknowledged that company was Centaur Gaming and the executives were Rod Ratcliff and John Keeler.
No charges have been publicly filed against either man.
However, the Indiana Gaming Commission was concerned enough about the Centaur-related accusations to put approval of a Terre Haute casino on hold for months because Ratcliff and Keeler were involved in the project.
The two men are now executives with Spectacle Entertainment, which is operating the Majestic Star I and Majestic Star II casinos on Lake Michigan in Gary and constructing a $300 million land-based casino that will replace those riverboats.
Spectacle Jack, whose parent company is Spectacle Entertainment, was the only applicant for the Terre Haute casino license and had proposed a $125 million casino near Interstate 70 and State Road 46. Florida-based Hard Rock is partnering with Spectacle Jack on the 100,000-square-foot casino. The gaming commission eventually approved the Terre Haute casino after Keeler and Ratcliff divested their interest in Spectacle Jack, which is the license holder.